Articles

Teaching WorkCover claimants to sell themselves

Elizabeth Quinn

In pain, low in confidence, and down at heart: it can be a hard slog to get back into the workforce. Here's the juice on helping people find a job.

The debilitating effects of an accident at home, at work or on the road, can be far-reaching.  The impact is usually physical, but also affects a person's confidence and self-esteem.

A prolonged recuperation is not the ideal preparation for venturing back into a workplace that may be unfamiliar, requiring a different set of skills to those required throughout previous employment.

Newly acquired physical limitations might place restrictions on the range of occupations a person can undertake, and this, combined with the added stress of entering the job market after a long absence, can combine to make the prospect a daunting one for the majority of people returning to work.

Teaching clients to sell themselves to prospective employers is a major aim of organisations such as Counselling Appraisal Consultants, one of Victoria's independent injury management and occupational rehabilitation providers. Melissa Bah, a vocational consultant at Job-Fast, the specialist vocational service division of the CAC, emphasises the importance of accessing the ‘hidden’ job market once you have identified your field of interest and expertise.

“Don’t necessarily wait for your dream job to be advertised in seek.com,” she says. “Research organisations within your chosen field, then utilise networks wherever possible to contact potential employers directly.”

 

How to Sell Yourself:

Step 1.

On Paper:

  1. Recognise the positive qualities and skills you have gained from previous employment.
     
  2. Market these qualities to future employers via a well-constructed and succinct resume:

    i) Keep it to the last 10 year’s employment history;                                         
    ii) Make sure your strengths/attributes/skills are dot-pointed on the front page of your resume; and
    iii) Identify the skills gained in each of your roles.

  3. Include a clear, concise employment objective explaining why you are aiming to change careers and what you have to offer.
     
  4. Reflect career changes following an injury in a positive way if possible. For example, if you have worked for 15 years at a call centre, emphasise the excellent interpersonal and communication skills you developed in that role which could now be utilised in a face-to-face customer service environment. 
     
  5. Always check that your referees are giving positive reports (particularly after a WorkCover claim):

    i) This can be done with the help of a vocational consultant, who can conduct a "mock" reference check. 

    ii) If there has been a relationship breakdown with the manager/supervisor at your pre-injury or accident employer and they are not willing to be a referee, always endeavour to find an alternative, such as a team leader. If this is not possible, select at least one other professional referee from your second most recent position. 

    iii)  If you have only worked with one employer, try to be creative and think of somebody else you could use. For example, a client or supplier you dealt with in the course of your work.  If all else fails, include at least one character referee who has known you for at least 10 years.

Step 2.

By Phone:

There are very few ways you can distinguish yourself from the pack via a resume submitted to an online recruiting agency. The best way to reinforce a written application is to follow it up with a phone call where possible. It is good practice to make a habit of ringing the phone number whenever it’s provided in a job advertisement. This is the exception rather than the rule, and usually indicates a willingness on the part of the prospective employer to engage in some discussion:

  1. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate your phone manner so if necessary, write yourself a brief introductory blurb to get you started. In most cases, a brief reference to the reason for your current unemployment can be of benefit at this early stage, especially when followed by a reference to your enthusiasm for returning to the workplace and an assurance of your fitness to return to work.
     
  2. Compose just one intelligent question regarding the job in question. For example, if it’s a part-time or casual position, ask for more information regarding the hours. Are they spread over a whole week or restricted to a few days per week? If the location is listed in general terms only, ask for more detail. Avoid giving too much away at this point regarding the personal suitability or otherwise of these issues: your aim here is to make your mark and get through to the next stage.
     
  3.  Some careers consultants would recommend you look up the phone details of a prospective employer if they are not provided on the job ad, and this can have positive results for those confident enough to do it. Be sure to pick up on the signals though: if it becomes evident the person on the other end is pressed for time, be brief.

Step 3.

In Person

  1. In an interview, confidence is a key component of success so focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do.
     
  2. Present your injury to employers in a positive light - describe how it has taught you the value of safe working practises/maintaining good health/being alive.
     
  3. Draw the employer’s attention to your strengths and positive attributes.
     
  4. Don’t be afraid to broach the subject of why you left your last employer.
     
  5. Don’t be negative when discussing WorkCover as this can impact negatively on a job interview.  Avoid going into details of how your injury occurred or why your previous employer was unable to keep you on.
     
  6. Ask the interviewer if they have any concerns about your physical ability to fulfil the role, and address them.

 

Link to CAC Autumn newsletter: http://www.cac.com.au/autumn2010_newletter.pdf

Published 08 October, 2010