We are a weird mob at times here Down Under…
If you search online for ‘career advice’, ‘job interviews’ or anything to do with the world of work, Google will do its job and load up the most popular sites. By sheer weight of numbers, these sites are likely to be American or perhaps British. Now there are, of course, many outstanding international experts and yet, it might well be a case of…
If you are Australian or someone from overseas who is looking to find work in Australia, there are at least 10 specific circumstances when you should ignore advice from a non-resident career specialist.
Some of these career issues are merely technical in nature; others require a fundamental re-think of your job search strategy.
Since I wrote my first blog about LinkedIn in 2015, I see more and more people using it very well. The bland motherhood business quotes are disappearing and people are posting content that is of value to their market place. However, we really are a conservative lot here.
Videos = Killed the Radio Star?
Many overseas experts will advise you to create a video on your LinkedIn profile. Apart from serious considerations about whether you have the ability to do this well from both a technical and content point of view, this does not go down well here. The politest interpretation this achieves is generally …’ Gee, he’s a bit full of himself’.
Résumé Infographic = Seeing is NOT Believing
Unless you operate in an industry where you are expected to be a bit ‘out there’, do not attempt to convey your work history and strengths via an infographic. Just stick with the written word. If you believe that an infographic would be admired by your target audience, seek expert advice so that the content is strong and the layout is stylish.
There are some awful statistics about how reluctant Australian employers are to hire foreigners. Many of the issues relate to culture, so if you are a newcomer to Australia, you should seek advice from a local career expert about what tone and approach to adopt in a job interview.
Forceful Self Promotion = Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?
One of my French acquaintances emigrated to Australia after spending 10 or so years working in the US. The first job that she applied for when she arrived was one that she really wanted. Unfortunately, she deliberately did a very hard sell in the interview about how good she was and about the wonderful things she was going do for them, should they be so lucky as to hire her. Oh dear! Strong self-promotion is not admired here and she missed out of the job. It was such a shame as my friend was one of the most elegant, refined people you could hope to meet and would most likely have been an excellent addition to their team.
Thank You Letter After an Interview = No Thank You!
I’ve yet to read a US career expert who does not exhort his or her reader to send a thank you note after an interview. Our view in Australia is that an employer makes a commercial decision to interview a group of people to see if they are suitable for their vacancy. They are not doing the interviewees any particular favour and do not need to be thanked. Indeed, if an applicant does write such a note, the typical response here is… ‘What a crawler’ or ‘She must be desperate’. (Note: there are some occasions when I do recommend writing a note to an interviewer, but that’s a discussion for another day).
I have a love/hate relationship with Job Search Networking. I dread making the initial phone call but love the amazing outcomes that you can achieve from the meetings. I religiously train my clients in its intricacies and glories but we Aussies are all in agreement about how pushy to be.
Pushy Pushy = When No Means No
When you phone that stranger and request a 20-minute meeting to ask their advice about your job search activities, it is totally acceptable to seek to overcome their initial objections. If they say, for example, ‘There’s no point coming to see me as we’re not hiring at the moment’, it’s a good idea to respond with something like, ‘I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job in your organisation. Joe (the mutual acquaintance) thought it would be valuable for me to meet with you as you have such a good understanding of the industry as a whole.’ That’s it, though. If they say no again, leave it at that. Any further pushing may result in an eventual meeting (though I suspect they’d cancel before the event), but you will probably have alienated them so much that the meeting becomes a waste of time.
Ah, the dreaded résumé.
I love it when people tell me that they won a role without having to present a résumé to the employer. It usually means that they are well regarded in their market place and/or that they have implemented a strong Job Search Networking campaign.
Most people, though, will need or want to sell themselves on paper so that they score an interview.
Here are the issues where résumés are different in Australia.
A4 vs US Letter = Never the Twain Shall Meet
Do not choose a US résumé template. They don’t use A4 paper, so any template will be set up to meet this different page size. You may not notice on your screen – it is often only when you actually print out your résumé that the incompatibility shows up.
Crammed vs Spaced Layout = If it Doesn’t Look Good, I Won’t Read It
The convention in the US is to keep the length of a résumé to 1-2 pages. One of the ways they typically achieve this is to use small fonts, narrow page margins and minimal spacing (such that I’d argue that a two-page American résumé contains the same amount of content as a three-page Australian résumé). Australian employers tend to have different preferences. They like well-spaced, easy to read content. A common response to a poorly laid out résumé here is… ‘Do they really think anyone would want to read that!?’
US template = The Best is Not Always the Best Choice
When I was parachuted into a large factory shut-down in Malaysia many years ago, I was horrified to find that the Outplacement company I was sub-contracting to was providing all of the senior employees with only two or three résumé templates. I immediately set out to unpack some stylish US templates to make them suitable for A4 paper. What a nightmare that task became. Many of these templates are created by master designers and have very sophisticated layout tricks in them. Even if you have extremely strong Word skills, it will still be very difficult to convert them to local needs. It is much better for you to find some Australian designs.
The photo on résumé = Every Picture Tells a Story?
Some cultures recommend that you include a photo on the first page of your résumé. This is an absolute no-no here. If you are young and good looking, the assumption in the serious part of town is that you are trading on your physical appearance. This is generally regarded as unworthy. Even if you fool the Manager, the People & Culture team will probably come down like a ton of bricks and have their say about your lack of suitability. Keep the (professional and high quality) photo for LinkedIn.
Results-only achievement statements = Less is Not Always More
One of the key ways to achieve a short résumé is to only mention results in your achievements e.g. ‘Decreased costs by 15%’… ‘Increased profitability by $2m’. If your résumé consists of a list of such bald statements, the usual response Down Under is sceptical… ‘Oh yeah, sure!’ We tend to prefer a bit more meat in our sandwich and the recommended style here for an Achievement statement is: Action + Result, as in… ‘Implemented lean manufacturing and step-change, delivering productivity improvement of over 40% and reduction of quality defects from 7% to 1%’
We Aussies have our antennae on high alert for fakeness and for self-promotion. We spot them both a mile off. And we don’t like it.
Underpinning all decisions about whether to hire someone or not is the question, ‘Would I like to work closely with this person day after day?’
You could be the nicest person in the world but if your audience doesn’t gel with you because you misread the culture here, you will find it so much harder to win a good job.
By all means, use Google rankings to help find a career expert. If you wish to operate successfully in Australia, however, make sure that the website address ends in .au.
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