Massey University CareerplaNZ

Career and student learning issues brought to you by Massey University’s Careers Service – New Zealand

Archive for January, 2009

Back to school – well, university!

Posted by John Ross on January 29, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Star Times carried an article headed ‘Harder Times in Job Market’.  In these tough times, it’s even more imperative for those seeking work to ensure that they’ve the skills; knowledge and experience to become – or to stay – as employable as they can.


Perhaps not surprisingly, tough economic conditions often see a rise in tertiary enrolments.  There is evidence of this happening again, as shown in the recent New Zealand Herald article ‘Graduates keep studying as recession hits jobs’, which notes a rise in applications for postgraduate courses.


Before you embark on study or training it’s good to begin by posing a few questions to yourself.  For example:


  • Why are you considering it in the first place?  Do you know that it’s a requirement for the role that you want?  Is it because of a passion that you have for the subject?  Do you feel that it might enhance your current job or your job prospects – if so, in what ways?


  • What type of study best suits you?  Within this, consider the amount of time you can devote to it; whether or not you want – or need – it to lead to a recognised qualification; whether you prefer to be based on campus or to study at a distance; your preference for assessment by exam or by regular assignments etc.


  • What are your personal circumstances?  Would you have the time and motivation to study?  What support mechanisms do you have in place – are your friends and family encouraging of your interest in study for example?  Would you need to study at a particular institution or in a particular geographical area?  If so, do they offer relevant programmes?


  • What are the financial implications and what support might be available to you?


  • At what level do you want – or need – to study?  Is it an undergraduate degree, a Diploma or a Masters degree for example?  Within this, would be able to claim credits for previous work or study that you’ve done?


Shameless plug now, but Massey University (where I work!) can be a great place to study.  You can find out what we think are the ‘top twenty’ reasons for choosing Massey here and can explore what we offer here.  Our student services are worth taking a look at too.



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People who need people

Posted by John Ross on January 28, 2009

Make no mistake, for job seekers the recession makes it all the more crucial to get and stay connected.


Contacts are vital.  They are hugely important sources of information on roles; employers and sectors.  Not only that, they can be great ways of discovering opportunities that might never be advertised. 


More than ever before, job search is an exercise in sales – with you the product.  To sell takes confidence and confidence comes through knowing the product – who you are; what you can offer; who might be interested in what you can offer and why.


When building a network of contacts it’s the norm to start with family and friends.  However, they too will know people who might join your network – and you can find other contacts through relevant professional associations; business groups and the like.


Once you have started to think about who could be in your network, you’ll want to consider how to make contact.  Do you call people; email them or meet with them?  Could you explore events that you could attend – perhaps run by professional bodies?  These can be a great way of keeping up-to-date with trends in a sector or profession; attendance will look good in your CV and they offer the chance to meet people with similar interests to yours.


Where you know of organisations that you’d like to work for, it may pay dividends to contact their human resources people – not necessarily to ask about jobs in the first instance – but to see if it’s possible to be put in touch with staff doing the type(s) of work that interest you.


When networking, it’s important to think of why you’re doing so.  Consider what you want; why people might want to help you and how you might best elicit their help.  Issues to consider might include:


·        Am I most interested in information about possible roles; trends in a sector or what particular organisations are like to work for?



·        How can I get contacts to help?  For example, by showing interest in them; by being clear about what I want from them and by giving them options on how to get back to me.



·        In what ways might I develop a good range of contacts?  It’s vital not to take only one person’s word on an issue.  Also, people who offer to help you will have their own reasons and motivations for helping – what might they be?



·        Am I most confident emailing; on the ‘phone or face-to-face?  This will influence how to contact people on your network.


·        How prepared am I to ‘sell’ myself?  If my contacts are probing my background and knowledge of the role/sector I’m interested in could I answer confidently?



Posted in Blogs, Career, Distance Learning, Massey University, New Zealand, Student, Studying, Tertiary Education, Uncategorized, University, work | Leave a Comment »

Getting creative

Posted by John Ross on January 27, 2009

In yesterday’s blog we looked – albeit briefly – at ‘recession proofing’ your career.  If you’re looking for work, integral to this will be the need to be creative in your job search.  Not least, because a high proportion of job vacancies are never advertised.


In today’s tough labour market it’s vital that you’re realistic in your expectations.  It’s very possible that you won’t find roles at the salary you were expecting and your room for negotiating a higher starting salary and more flexible terms and conditions may be significantly smaller than it was even a few months ago.  For many, the scope to move ‘up the career ladder’ will have lessened and moves are more likely to be sideways – in the same or into a new organisation.  Indeed, the current recession may sharpen the trend towards a person’s career being characterised by periods of paid work; further study and training and contract work rather than by ‘a job for life’.


As we’ve already noted, it will be important to be keenly aware of the skills that you have and of how they can be applied in a new role – to the benefit of the employer.  Perhaps the safest job seeker of all will be the one whose skills can be applied across a range of roles and sectors.


Spending time on self-appraisal of your skills; interests; values etc is likely to be time well spent.  So too however, will be time spent looking at sectors, roles and employers.  This will mean asking yourself searching questions.  For example, how comprehensively could you answer the following questions?


  • What are the most active sectors in the locations you want to work in?
  • Which organisations would be most interested in what you have to offer?
  • Why might these organisations be interested in you?
  • How do they typically recruit and who is responsible for their recruitment?

In career choice, and in job search, your knowledge of the sector will be invaluable too.  Of the sectors that interest you, what are the current trends in each?  Are opportunities likely to expand or contract and are jobs typically found in large organisations?  What are the major organisations in the sectors concerned, and are employers concentrated in certain parts of the country?


Take time to identify and explore the major information sources for these sectors.  It’s likely that these will include professional associations and employer/business groups.  

Posted in Blogs, Career, Distance Education, Distance Learning, Massey University, New Zealand, Student, Tertiary Education, Uncategorized, University, work | Leave a Comment »

Recession Proofing

Posted by John Ross on January 26, 2009

Reasonable title, followed by reasonable advice – I hope!

It’s hard to avoid the current doom-and-gloom messages on the impact of the global recession.  Amongst the hardest hit will be those looking for work and – if that’s you – what can you do towards recession-proofing yourself? First, the bad news.  No matter how skilled and experienced you are, you’re likely to face stiffer competition for fewer opportunities.   This will mean – more than ever – the need to take a long hard look at yourself; at what you want and at what you can offer.  Also, at how you access opportunities.

Job-search is a project.  Like all good projects it involves goal-setting, and a good first step is to set yourself the goal of being clear about you.  Potential employers will want to know ‘what makes you tick’.  Answer honestly – how aware are you of your skills; your work values; your career interests and your personality – and of the personalities of those you’d want around you at work?  If you could use a refresher look at these, the resources you’ll find here might help.

Then, it’s a question of looking at how these ‘fit’ with the jobs that interest you – and the employers and sectors you’re attracted to.  Not all sectors, employers and roles will experience the recession the same way.  Indeed, some will remain relatively healthy – in New Zealand these might include opportunities in education; health; infrastructure developments etc.  Crucial to this will be access to up-to-date labour market information. 

Potential employers will want to see that you can add value and – even in your CV and cover letter – can articulate how.  They’ll be most interested in those with the technical skills to do the job, but who can combine these with non-technical skills and traits.  The latter will include resilience; initiative; leadership (or leadership potential); interpersonal and communication skills; energy and enthusiasm; problem solving and self-motivation – to name just a few. 

As you look at this issue, you may well be faced with the need – or desire – to re-train or upskill.  Indeed, one of the reasons that the education sector may be somewhat ‘recession proof’ is that it’s likely to see a growth in people studying – particularly short and/or part-time courses.  You can find information on the papers and programmes offered by Massey here.

Posted in Blogs, Career, Massey University, New Zealand, Student, Tertiary Education, Thinking of study, University, work | Leave a Comment »

Thanks for stopping by

Posted by John Ross on January 22, 2009

I started this blog some months ago but with the new year comes new impetus for it.  It’s the blog for Massey University Careers Service and we’ll use it to post videos; articles; resources; news and information on career-related issues.

We hope you’ll find it useful and interesting and we’d love to hear from you – particularly if you have a connection with Massey; are thinking of studying with us or have an interest in career issues in general.

Explore Massey through YouTube

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