Entrepreneur and recruitment specialist Andrew Banks answers your questions

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was celebrating the Coalition’s narrow win over the Labor Party at the Federal Election.

There were pledges to deliver tax cuts, a budget surplus and a stronger economy.

Then came COVID-19 – and the best-laid plans went out the proverbial window. The Federal Government has been forced to abandon its surplus dream in favour of boosting unemployment benefits, subsidising wages to preserve jobs, and embracing stimulus spending.

Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the country had seen the biggest rise in unemployment on record, with almost 600,000 people losing their jobs in one month between March and April.

Australia’s unemployment rate is now sitting at 6.2 per cent and economists say this could climb even higher in the months ahead.

But as Australia cautiously gets to its collective feet to begin the recovery from the national COVID-19 shutdown, businesses large and small are turning their attention to rebuilding workforces, restoring consumer confidence and revenue, while also ensuring workplaces are operating efficiently and safely.

Employment opportunities are expected to follow. While employers will have to brace themselves for a tsunami of applicants, job seekers will also have to find ways to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd.

It’s going to be a challenge, especially for small businesses that might not have the human resources to effectively process applications and find the right people for the job.

And for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a business might be the priority over finding alternative employment. Australians already have a proud track record of innovation, especially when the going gets tough.

Entrepreneur and recruitment expert Andrew Banks, also known for his role as a judge on the hit television show Shark Tank, was online today to answer your questions,

Here’s what he had to say:

Q. What is the most important advice you have for jobseekers, especially given the fact there are more out there than ever?

A. Know clearly what you are passionate about, what your strengths and skills are and how you can show that past performance in the above has worked out well – then do the research so you are targeting the appropriate kind of jobs relevant to the above. And finally, make it a ‘project’ and apply for lots of jobs rather than get disappointed if you apply for a few and don’t get hired! Don’t rely on the resume, get on the phone or online and write a great story on why they should talk to you … then ask great questions like “What’s the most important aspect about your company’s culture or work style that I should be aware of if I was fortunate enough to get hired by you?”

Q. I am in my late 40s and have to get a new job (I was in my last job in hospitality for 15 years). How do I set myself apart from other job applicants using my resume?

A. The resume is overrated and it doesn’t get people a job. It is supposed to get you an interview – but so can a phone call directly to the hiring manager as can a good covering letter. So set out what you are passionate about, really good at, and why you are motivated and keen to please customers and use those bullet points as your script when you call up and ask for an interview … online or face-to-face! That’s how you will set yourself apart!

Q. As an employer, what is the thing you dislike most about what people put on resumes and what is the thing you like the most? Is shorter better and how do I grab attention with my cover letter? Also what is the best way to ask for feedback if I am unsuccessful?

A. The resume is just one part of the process when I’m recruiting people. It tells me what the person ‘used to think about’ (knowledge) and why I should at least talk to them. I am looking for key skills, what they are most competent in, where and why they have been successful in the past, and some basics like education, location, availability. What I don’t want is just an ‘information dump’ with no dates, no summaries of the last jobs and what was successful in the past! Then I screen them on Skype/Zoom/face-to face, by asking questions around their passion, their reasons for why ‘this job’, income and work expectations. Here I am looking for ‘how they think’ (personal attributes and skills) – that way I get a complete picture of the whole person. And yes it’s always ask good questions (about the company/the role/their culture/what to expect if you do a great job) and if you don’t get it, call or ask for guidance on ‘why’ for you next application. Knowledge is power … and have a thick skin … it’s never always about you but lots of other factors at play.

Q. How do you stay positive when you keep missing out on jobs? I have applied for 30 jobs in the past couple of months and just keep getting rejected. How do I ask for feedback to try and understand what I am doing wrong?

A. Maybe you’re looking at the wrong roles/typecasting yourself. Go and create a profile online with software like www.shortlyster.com that automatically matches you to jobs. These platforms don’t just look at your technical skills or qualifications, it also matches you based on your personal qualities and motivations. And who knows, maybe you will be matched to a role that you would never have considered before. Are you networking? Find opportunities to collaborate or simply ask questions of professionals in your field. They might also know about opportunities you can apply for. Get feedback – it is possible that your resume and cover letter are both fine – it’s possible they could also use some more polishing. Ask colleagues or other professionals to critique your CV, ask them what they would ask you in a job interview, or even set up a mock interview to practice. Ask questions – ask the employer why you weren’t selected. Sometimes you will get an automated rejection letter, other times you will get a phone call or personalised e-mail. Don’t ignore the call or e-mail. Respond and ask questions about why you weren’t selected and what the successful candidate had you didn’t. You will learn a lot from talking to the hiring manager or recruiter. Sometimes you will hear something you don’t like hearing, but it might make you more prepared for the next interview. Keep at it – try not to dwell on the rejections. Dust yourself off and get back at it, but also make sure you get away from the computer. Take a mental break. Go for a run. Enjoy time with your family.

Q. I am looking for a new job in an administration-type role. Would I increase my chances by going to a recruitment agency?

A. Yes is the short answer but think of a job search like a funnel – the more you put in the top the better! So do your research on the type of company/industry/role/location/money by looking online and then tailor your applications to suit. But assume you have to apply for 20-plus roles to get three to four interviews. That includes adding recruitment agencies that seem to be advertising the jobs you are most interested in. It’s the combination of both direct and via agency applications plus volume that counts!

Q. What businesses do you think have the best chance of growth through this crisis?

A. Clearly anything that has a digital side to it so the COVID issues don’t apply. Then think of services and products people need even if their budget is tighter, so services that make life easier, healthier, more convenient, faster. Digital gift cards is an example, online selection of people for home services like repairs, or care for elderly. Home made food that can be delivered and reheated, fast meals etc. ATOMS (people, goods, physical objects, logistics) are expensive, whereas BYTES are cheap – think with that and choose businesses that have more bytes less atoms!

Q. How well do you think Australia’s economy will bounce back and how much worse do you think the unemployment figures are going to get? You have been in business for a long time and no doubt been through recessions and also the GFC etc. How does this compare?

A. I am positive on Australia but I’m no economist but have survived many downturns by:

Focusing on what I can control:

Keep doing what am I good at that will still work during tough times:

Conserving cash so I can last the distance (personally and in my business)

Staying positive and not getting infected by constant bad news stories and negative people!

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