Regular contributor Kathie Kelly chatted to Leaders in Heels about her career change journey. If you have a story you would like to share contact us here.

I have loved working with Leaders In Heels since 2012 and have contributed many career articles aimed at helping readers navigate new employment and to have the best chance at changing careers. When I first started writing for Leaders in Heels, I was heading up a recruitment division for a very well-known training organisation. However,  in 2013, my circumstances required a change of lifestyle. I had lived with chronic back pain for many years and working 9 to 5 full-time meant a weekend of recovery and not much else. That was fine, but then when my mum got sick due to bowel cancer, I knew something had to give. So out of necessity to care for Mum (and myself), Square Pegs was born.

The first year was pretty all over the place. Not much direction and a lot of me doing whatever work came along that suited my skill set

The first year was pretty all over the place. Not much direction and a lot of me doing whatever work came along that suited my skill set (recruitment/resume writing/tender or grant writing, fundraising assistance), while sitting by hospital beds or taking mum to chemo. Devastatingly, Mum passed away at the end of that first year and, even though it was kind of expected, I was pretty shaken. I took a few months to tidy up all her affairs and then I was left wondering what was next. So back to full-time work I went. However, my body had gotten used to not having to sit in an office chair for fifty hours a week and consequently threw a tantrum. The chronic back pain had not only returned, it was literally taking over my life.

So a new plan was needed. Square Pegs was dusted off again and this time I decided and embarked upon a firm direction. I sat down and thought about what I loved doing, what I was good at, and how I could earn a living. The standout by a mile was finding funding for great causes. Over the last few months I have been steadily building relationships with a variety of clients and loving the opportunity to help both charities and not-for-profit organisations develop new opportunities with funders, corporate partners and sponsors. I have made mistakes, have freaked out that no one would use me, have fist pumped and literally leapt for joy. Yes, it’s been a roller coaster ride as the cliché goes and I’m so lucky to have the fantastic support of my hubby, who has not only supported me financially and emotionally, but also actually believes that I’m pretty good at this stuff (as luckily do a couple of other people too!).

So my advice would be to make lemon out of lemonades. Or vodka out of potatoes.

So my advice would be to make lemon out of lemonades. Or vodka out of potatoes. Basically, rather than being the victim of your circumstances, make the bumps in the road into spring cushions and leap into your passion. If it spins your wheels then chances are your enthusiasm will translate into your work and that makes all the difference.

Featured Photo Credit: Pixabay

Kathie Kelly is the Director of Square Pegs Consulting, and can help charities and not-for-profit organisations with sourcing funding through grants or campaigns and developing corporate partnerships or sponsorships.

Kathie has held senior roles in both corporate and community organisations and as a result understands the motivators and drivers underpinning long-term growth strategies in both sectors. An ex ballet dancer and a keen supporter of the arts, Kathie has also been on the board of the Anywhere Theatre Festival, loves to travel and is an avid rugby league follower. You can connect with Kathie on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/kathiekelly or follow her on Twitter @1KathieKelly.


​As a supervisor or manager, one of your key tasks is to manage the employee relations within your organisation. So, what are ‘employee relations’ and how exactly do you manage or indeed improve them?

Employee relations encompasses the overall management and wellbeing of your organisation’s employees including, but not limited to, their behaviour and morale. It is the common denominator when creating successful engagement initiatives, whether it be around performance management through to workplace health and safety.

To generate improvement in this area, and gain happier and more productive staff members, follow these 5 key tips for a manager to improve employee relations within an organisation.

Improving Employee Relations

1. Communication


Stop sending essay-length emails and get back to basics. Use bullet points and, where possible, pick up the phone or walk over to your colleagues to disseminate information. Check out this eBook on how to communicate to increase your productivity.

“Reward good ideas and keep staff updated”

2. Career Development


Create plans that include career pathways and succession planning, with input from your line reports and potentially their staff. Institute tuition reimbursement for recognised and relevant education

3. Vision


Ensure your company vision is not only part of your day to day culture, but that your staff live and breathe it. Share plans, and get employees excited about the organisation’s future. Ask for ideas on what can make the company more productive – a good way to do this is to narrow down the areas that you wish to see improvement in. That way staff have some direction around where to harness their creativity. Reward good ideas and keep staff updated.

“Ensure that each staff member knows what their boundaries are, what success looks like and the expectations of both their immediate manager and the team as a whole”

4. Motivate


Employee of the Month programs are great, as are incentives and rewards. However, they are short term behaviour changers, and you need to get the fundamentals right. Ensure that each staff member knows what their boundaries are, what success looks like and the expectations of both their immediate manager and the team as a whole. The absence of any clear guidelines or feedback can be detrimental to ensuring positive employee relations.

5. Good Health


Encourage a work/life balance. Give staff some control (where possible) over their schedules by offering flex time or working from home options. Stagger start and finish times to avoid peak traffic. Provide education around healthy eating, exercising and managing stress. Don’t pay lip service – lead by example. Encourage breaks and suggest walking meetings to get some fresh air as opposed to stuffy boardrooms where possible. Companies can face a big cost in terms of managing absences due to stress, so ensure you identify the signs early and step in quickly to alleviate any long term problems.

“Don’t pay lip service – lead by example”

Essentially employee relations are all about your investment in your people. Your people are also the key to your business success, so don’t take them for granted otherwise your productivity and in term your profit will diminish.

 

Featured photo credit: InternationalHouseManchester via photopin cc

 

Kathie-Kelly-Leaders-in-Heels-bio-img-finalKathie Kelly
Kathie Kelly is the Director of Square Pegs Consulting which provides assistance to not for profits, businesses and individuals with recruitment and HR projects along with sourcing funding and developing corporate partnerships for charitable organisations.

Kathie has spent a number of years in recruitment/workforce planning, marketing/business development and corporate partnerships/fundraising in both New Zealand and Australia.

An ex ballet dancer and a keen supporter of the arts, Kathie has also been on the board of the Anywhere Theatre Festival, absolutely loves to travel and is an avid rugby league follower. You can connect with Kathie on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/kathiekelly or follow her on Twitter @1KathieKelly.

 


I’m often asked, what does a Recruitment Consultant actually do (other than just send CVs to clients as many people think!) and why do we have them?

Professionally, a recruiter’s role can often be misconstrued. Firstly, you need to understand that the Recruitment Consultant does not work for the job seeker. They work for the company looking to hire. They are likened to an intermediary or broker – linking potential candidates who meet the key criteria to organisations currently recruiting staff.

Recruiter’s qualifications

When hiring a Recruiter to fill a role, you should be looking for someone who is tenacious, responsive, keen to learn about your organisation and culture, results- focused with an affinity for working with people. The same applies when considering registering with a Consultant – remembering that they will only put you forward for roles that they feel you are an excellent fit for, as it’s their reputation on the line. Many long term consultants will have a strong network that provides referrals to prospective candidates – that’s why an organisation pays them! A top Recruiter will build up knowledge of their market sector and develop strong sustainable relationships with key clients and candidates – sustainable being the key word here, not churning and burning! A Recruitment Consultant will specialise in a specific industry and often their experience comes directly from working in that area themselves, prior to their career in recruitment

At many agencies, a Recruitment Consultant will specialise in a specific industry and often their experience comes directly from working in that area themselves, prior to their career in recruitment. This expertise can be extremely advantageous. With an operational understanding of the role requirements, the Consultant can develop a strong understanding of the cultural fit of both the business and immediate team where the vacancy sits. This information can then form the brief for the role and allow the Consultant to initially utilise their own existing networks to find the right person. Furthermore with a good overarching understanding of the industry and the organisation, they can tailor their vacancy advertisements in relevant media channels and build significant social media followings to develop their networks even more and reach out to find the right candidate for the right role, every time. Note I say right, not best, as you may be the best in your field but if the organisational values don’t match with yours then the role will not be ‘right’ for you.

What they actually do

It is the job of the Recruiter to assess a potential candidate for the role on offer. This is where they build credibility with both their clients and candidates. A company paying for a service does not want their time wasted nor do they generally wish to make a short term hire (unless specifically for a contract or temporary role). The candidate wants to build rapport and connect. By having a thorough understanding of not only the role but the company and the team, the Consultant can shortlist through a combination of techniques including behavioural interviewing, specific skills and aptitude testing along with personality profiling. If a Consultant doesn’t work through at least some of these techniques alarm bells should ring – for either the client or the candidate! Remember you are all looking for long term placements.

Once the role is at shortlist stage the Consultant then needs to move into facilitator mode. This is where it is important that they have built trust with candidates in order to be able to manage the process through repeat interviews, salary negotiations, reference checking and final offers. Unsuccessful candidates should be provided feedback sensitively and hiring managers advised of any specific arrangements or concerns raised by referees. Again, ensure this part of the process happens – otherwise the consequences can be dire.

Essentially a Recruiter is not someone who simply matches a set of skills but a true consultant who endeavours to completely understand the business and culture of their clients in order to meet the career and personal motivations of their candidates. When that happens successfully, everyone wins.

photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc

Kathie Kelly

Kathie is the Director of Square Pegs Consulting which was founded to provide affordable assistance to not for profits, businesses and individuals with recruitment/HR, resume writing, tender submissions and business sales coaching. Kathie has spent a number of years in recruitment, workforce planning, marketing/business development and community/corporate partnerships in both NZ and Australia.

As a keen follower of the arts Kathie has also been on the board of the Anywhere Theatre Festival, loves to travel and is an avid rugby league follower. You can connect with Kathie on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/kathiekelly


Last month we discussed how to put together your resume with the aim of getting you in front of the recruiter or hiring manager. Many applications request a cover letter to accompany your resume. No one looks at that do they? Wrong!!!

When composing your cover letter remember this is a great chance to connect with the reader. Tell them why you are applying. Not some generic rubbish that you have sent off to 100 employers, but really tell them why you want to work for THEM. What is it that you love about their brand, their service, their reputation – surely there must be something (otherwise why are you applying?!). Key reminder here though – keep it real. Everyone loves to be flattered but only if it comes from the heart.

Secondly, tell them why you would be suitable for the job. Perhaps even include a quote from a referee or a LinkedIn testimonial. Again don’t be generic here. I come from a marketing background is not enough, instead look at similarities with markets and demographics, supply chains and regions.

Finally make sure you express just how much you want the job. It’s not always the most experienced person who gets the job, as they don’t always convince the hiring manager that they really want it. No one wants to think you are just taking a job waiting for a better one to come along (even if you are!).

So with these goals in mind, here’s a format of what your letter should include:

1. Correct addressing details. Even if the advert doesn’t state the name of the person doing the hiring, there are ways to find this out. Check out their website careers or contacts page or simply call them. This can sometimes give you an edge.
2. Your opening paragraph should give a reason for the hiring manager to continue reading. Explain here why you are interested in the job and why the organisation appeals to you.
3. The second paragraph should demonstrate that you can do the job. The easiest way is to reflect the key words used in the advert, without blatant plagiarism, but by paraphrasing. Make it clear through your own unique selling points why you can do the job e.g. I have five years’ experience as a Marketing Manager for XYZ where I delivered over 10 successful direct mail campaigns as opposed to I have skills in direct mail. Note the difference and if you only take one tip out of this article, I’d suggest it be that one!
4. When you get to the third paragraph you need to let them know of any major career achievements that are relevant to this position. Don’t just provide a summary of your resume, here is where you can show your alignment with their culture and goals. Link your experience to their brand, clients or marketplace – paint a picture of your transferable skills and learnings.
5. Finally make sure you thank them for their time, indicate that you would like the opportunity to discuss how you could add value to the team and ensure your contact details are listed.

Try to keep to one page and, as always, proof read! What are some of the things you’ve added to your cover letter that has landed you the job? Share in the comments below.

Kathie Kelly

Kathie is the Director of Square Pegs Consulting which was founded to provide affordable assistance to not for profits, businesses and individuals with recruitment/HR, resume writing, tender submissions and business sales coaching.

She has spent a number of years in recruitment, workforce planning, marketing/business development and community/corporate partnerships in both NZ and Australia. As a keen follower of the arts Kathie has also been on the board of the Anywhere Theatre Festival, loves to travel and is an avid rugby league follower. You can connect with Kathie on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/kathiekelly or via Twitter @1KathieKelly


As the famous saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

When putting together your resume, remember that the purpose of this document is to get you in the door and in front of either the recruiter or hiring manager. This decision will probably be made within a couple of minutes, so your key objective is to make it a no-brainer for them to put you on the shortlist.

Whilst no two resumes will look the same, there are certain common points that all good resumes adhere to:

  • Keep information relevant to the position on offer. This may involve having a few resumes on hand e.g. sales focus, management focus, community focus.
  • Keep sentences short and to the point. Ensure correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. Don’t rely on spell check – have a couple of people read through it to check for you.
  • Ensure you maintain the same formatting throughout – capitalisation, italics, underlining should be used sparingly to highlight relevant points. Margins and spacing must be consistent.
  • Almost every resume should include the following headings; personal details, objective, educational or vocational qualifications (depending on age), career history, awards and achievements and referees.

Personal Details

It’s essential to keep this information up to date. Use personal email addresses not work ones. It goes without saying (but I will anyway!) that if your current personal email is [email protected] then get a specific job application email address. Also ensure your message bank has a professionally spoken message and that it is working!

Objective or Executive Summary

If you are relatively new to the workforce or looking to change careers, this is where you state your career goal – hint, match it to the job that you are applying for. If you are experienced and looking to move into a similar role type, then provide a brief overview of your professional history and highlights. This allows the reader to get a sense of who you are professionally and a smart applicant will tailor this segment to the job they are applying for by using some of the same descriptive words that the advert uses (without completely plagiarising).

Educational or Vocational Qualifications

If you left school in the last five years then state your grades. If not, leave them out. List your tertiary qualifications, any apprenticeship/traineeships, industry accredited courses, technical training, specific skills training, management courses and the like.

Career History

Here you should focus on your skills, experiences, responsibilities, achievements and career progression. Listing employers in chronological order, starting with the most recent position first, is the most popular layout.

Think carefully about your role, the skills and attributes you used or developed in each position. Did you save your company money, increase efficiency, identify new ways of doing things, attract new clients? Regularly update these details, ensuring again they are relevant to the position you are applying for. Do NOT just list your position description. We want to know what you achieved and how.

Awards and Achievements

List any awards you or your team has won, any board or committee positions, any volunteer roles or significant achievements.

Referees

Make sure you choose people that you reported to and who can verify your responsibilities and skills. Sounds simple but you’d be amazed at how many referees I speak to that can’t provide clear details. You can list that you will supply referees on request if you wish to, this allows you to make contact with your referee to let them know who will be calling. Again something that many people don’t do, and it’s extremely unprofessional. Ensure if you do list them that you state their name, job title, organisation, phone number, address and email.

Good luck with your job hunt!

SPECIAL OFFER FOR LEADERS IN HEELS READERS AND SUBSCRIBERS: If you would like Kathie to review, revamp and rejig your resume then head over Facebook and LIKE her Square Pegs page to take advantage of a special deal for November – Half Price Resumes only $50!

Image credit

Kathie Kelly

Kathie is the Director of Square Pegs Consulting which was founded to provide affordable assistance to not for profits, businesses and individuals with recruitment/HR, resume writing, tender submissions and business sales coaching. Kathie has spent a number of years in recruitment, workforce planning, marketing/business development and community/corporate partnerships in both NZ and Australia. As a keen follower of the arts Kathie has also been on the board of the Anywhere Theatre Festival, loves to travel and is an avid rugby league follower. You can connect with Kathie on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @1kathiekelly.


In a previous post it was discussed how employers are using LinkedIn and other social media tools to find their future employees and get a feel for their online personality. In this post I share 5 key tips in getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile and ensuring it puts you in the driving seat when it comes to finding your perfect job.

Don’t forget this is a professional network and these tips are geared towards portraying yourself in the best possible light for your future employers – remember everything can be searched so think about your long term goals when you post. LinkedIn is a professional network and these tips are geared towards portraying yourself in the best possible light for your future employers

Tip #1: Connect with the key movers and shakers in your industry. If you don’t know who they are then search for companies and groups that resonate with your profession. Take note of who posts regularly and try to engage them by adding your comments too. Try an advanced search to find the key contacts within companies that you want to work for – enter location, job title and company name. You can view 2nd and 3rd tier connections (friends of friends) so the more relevant connections you have in your industry the better.

Tip #2: Regularly post updates. You can link interesting articles (perhaps this one?!), ‘like’ other updates (this will show on your timeline) and generally link anything from the web that has a share button. You can share just as a status update or as you get more confident you can share with any groups you are part of – don’t forget to make a relevant comment to introduce whatever you are sharing.

Tip #3: Ensure your profile is positive and you are upbeat about your current or most recent position. Just as in any job search situation, no one likes to hear people bagging their current or past employers. There is an option for any awards, projects or blogs to be highlighted within your profile – depending upon your line of work this could be very useful for you.

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to offer written testimonials/recommendations to your connections – there is every chance they will reciprocate. This is probably the easiest way to generate endorsements as opposed to asking for them. That being said, if you do get great feedback from people then make sure you suggest to them that it would be appreciated if they could post that on LinkedIn.

Tip #5: Use regularly and ensure you respond to any requests promptly. If asked to connect you can view the requester’s profile and decide if you wish to accept their invite. If approached by a recruiter and the role isn’t for you – suggest you meet for coffee or arrange a phone chat to discuss exactly what types of opportunities you are searching for. Remember even if they don’t have the perfect role for you right now, they may have in the future!

Kathie Kelly is the Director of Square Pegs Consulting which was founded to provide affordable assistance to not for profits, businesses and individuals with recruitment, HR projects and CV writing. Kathie has spent a number of years in recruitment, workforce planning, marketing/business development and community/corporate partnerships in both NZ and Australia.

As a keen follower of the arts Kathie is also on the board of the Anywhere Theatre Festival, loves to travel and is an avid rugby league follower. You can connect with Kathie on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/kathiekelly or visit her website at www.squarepegsconsulting.com.au