Workplace of the future & employment options

Richard was recently invited by the UQ Business School to speak with the MBA students about the workplace of the future and  employment options. UQ Business School has kindly allowed us to share their recording of this presentation. If you do have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact Richard on


We hope you enjoy this presentation.

@uqbs @richard_triggs #employmentoptions #workplaceofthefuture

All I want for Christmas… is a new job!


Many of us arrive at the festive season wondering how the year has flown by so quickly. Between our work commitments and our everyday world of family we hit the end of year with a sudden thud!

The year has got away from us yet again. Many make a new years’ resolution that they will not continue with the pace of the previous year or will change companies or seek a promotion. The reality is that for a large percentage the change doesn’t come. We get stuck in the cycle and continue as we have done the previous year.

So how can we make 2017 different?

For those in Australia, a large portion will be taking annual leave from the 23rd December through to early January – An annual ritual to share time with family, friends and enjoy the downturn in the corporate market. A large portion of companies will be on a skeleton staff through to 9th January if not later.

What a great time to put together your own personal strategic plan.

If you want to change your career in 2017 then plan it. I meet with so many executives who want to change but they don’t know what they want to do.

They know they would like to be stretched from their current role but are vague on what their new role will look like.

They know they want to work for a new organisation but they don’t know who.

Like any strategic plan you need to know where you want to be in the next three years. What does your career look like, who are you working for, what type of projects or challenges are you working on.

Only once you have started to contemplate the future can you put together your implementation plan and take your career into your own hands.

Read the rest of the article on LinkedIn.

10 Ways to Conquer your Interview Fears

girl power super hero confidence in kids or children

girl power super hero confidence in kids or children

One of the most challenging processes for any candidate is the interview. So many of our executive candidates say “I haven’t been in a formal interview for over 10 years, what do I need to do to ensure I don’t stuff up?”

The most important thing you can do is practice, practice and practice some more.

As an executive recruiter I find candidates are more relaxed with me vs. the client and in doing so let down their guard. This is a good thing and a bad thing. In being more relaxed you are usually more comfortable in answering interview questions vs. when nervous you may not come across as articulate as you’d like and you can forget your “best answers.” I have sat in many interviews with boards where great candidates have come across less confidently because they are nervous and they fumble through some of their answers.

Executives and boards want to hire leaders that are confident, articulate and that will represent their brand or service in the best possible way.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t stuff up!

1.     Know your career story – Review your resume and ensure you can discuss your career, in relation to the role you are being interviewed for. You want to be able to talk about your career in two to five minutes highlighting the achievements and challenges related to the role you are talking about. Discuss your reasoning for leaving roles and companies with an aim to highlight your career progression. Have a copy of your resume with you.

2.     Know your achievement stories. For every role in the last 15 years you should have at least 3 achievement stories that quantifiably demonstrate why you are good at your job.

3.     Know your strengths – Be able to articulate and demonstrate with examples what your key strengths or features are that you bring to the role. Also know your gaps or areas where you know you rely on others to compliment you. Self awareness is imperative at the executive end.

4.     Be able to tell your stories using the STAR format – Situation, Task, Action, Result. When you use the STAR format your stories tell the who, what, where, why and how. They provide the listener with a complete story and demonstrate your involvement. It also helps you when nervous to ensure you provide sufficient content if you keep the STAR format at the front of mind.

5.     Use I – Remember you are the one being interviewed not your team. This is the one time as a leader when you need to demonstrate your role, input and achievement, albeit you may have done it through your team.

6.     Practice, Practice and Practice some more – The biggest mistake candidates make is not practicing answering interview questions.  When you come along to ourAlways Stand Out career workshops we provide you with pages of sample questions that may be asked in executive interviews. We recommend you use your smart phone or computer to film yourself answering questions. This enables you to critique your answers and body language.

7.     Research the company – There is nothing worse than a candidate not being aware of the latest company information. As an executive candidate download and read the latest annual report, Google press releases and research media information on the company.

8.     Research the interviewers – Read their bios on the company page or LinkedIn. If you are working with a recruiter they should be able to provide insights into the interviewers.

9.     Prepare your questions – As you research the company prepare questions you would like to ask at the interview. One of the best questions we recommend candidates ask at interview is

“Imagine we are sitting down in 12 months’ time at my performance review. It’s been a great year I’ve achieved all of the goals. What exactly have I done in the past 12 months?”

10.  Dress appropriately – Ask the organiser what the dress code of the office/ team is. When in doubt I recommend over dressing – full suit and tie for men, suit for women as you are always able to take your jacket off if the interviewer/s are less formal.

So to reduce your nerves practice answering all types of questions, know your stories and answer the questions using the STAR format. When you are prepared you will be more confident and be truly present in the interview, enabling you to determine if it’s the right role and organisation for you. An interview is a two way street, so ensure you are judged on your past performance, potential and motivation and not on your nerves.

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe

Fiona Cochran is an executive search specialist and an executive career coach. She works with a wide variety of clients, across industry and throughout Australia. With the evolution of technology and social media she is passionate about working with the executive leadership team and boards of organisations to engage on social media and to build their personal and company brand.

To learn more about her upcoming Executive Career Workshops


Headhunting – If you want the best talent, it’s essential

I facilitated a workshop on Performance-based Hiring last week for a new client. For the last 11 years, I have been a passionate user of this methodology created by Lou Adler. Lou is an engineer who moved into executive search and created a methodology designed to attract and engage with the best talent in the market place, not just the best talent that apply to a job advertisement.

One of the statistics I was able to source from states that 27% of full and part time employees in Australia are settled in their job;  27% are actively seeking a new job and 46% are monitoring the market.

What does this mean?

One quarter of your workforce is looking for a new role on any day. One quarter are happy in their role and not contemplating moving; and half of your employees are open to an opportunity if the right role presented itself.

I am a headhunter and proud of what we do.

When I introduce these statistics to clients I highlight that when you are posting a job advertisement you need to hope that the active candidates see it. But note, you are only targeting a quarter of your potential market. When you strategically map the market and actively approach candidates together with a job advertisement you have the potential to talk to 75% of your potential candidate market.

So what do we actually do? On any assignment I work with a researcher and an Associate. The researchers are the online detectives who identify and map the people in similar jobs and companies to those our client is seeking to engage with. I then work with an Associate and we will proactively go out to contact all of the people on our market map. We will use a combined e-marketing campaign and a proactive telephone approach – we will headhunt.

Historically headhunting has had negative connotations to it. Today with the evolution of technology and social media platforms a good recruiter should be a headhunter. A good recruiter should be able to find you unique people that you wouldn’t have found if you only advertised. A client recently said to a candidate that we presented, “Why didn’t you apply for the job when we advertised?” His reply, “I wasn’t looking so I didn’t see it!”

So my words of advice is to think about your talent and attraction strategy. Are you only reaching the quarter of the population that are actively looking for a new job or are you talking with the best talent in the market.

If you want to hire superior people, use a system designed to hire superior people, not one designed to fill jobs” Lou Adler

Fiona Cochran is an executive search specialist and an executive career coach. She works with a wide variety of clients, across industry and throughout Australia. With the evolution of technology and social media she is passionate about working with the executive leadership team and boards of organisations to engage on social media and to build their personal and company brand.

Sell me don’t Tell me!

I find it hard to sell myself.

I know I’m good at what I do, but sales – it’s just not me.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this from candidates, highly accomplished individuals who have been paid handsomely to do what they do! However when they find themselves looking for a new role whether because of redundancy or choice they find it hard to sell themselves in their resume, LinkedIn profile and in an interview.

Today I want to focus on selling yourself in your resume. I’ve been reviewing a substantial number of senior finance resumes today and in general I have to HUNT for information about what the candidates have done in their past roles. Candidates have a tendency to think a recruiter wants to read their position description.

I don’t want a position description. I want to quickly and easily understand from your resume why you are the best candidate for the job.

I don’t want a list of your strengths nor do I want to have to go on google to understand who you have been working for as I’ve never heard of your company before. Sorry this is my rant!

A resume is your sales brochure.

It’s the first stage in the recruitment process. If you don’t sell yourself and demonstrate why you are great at what you do you won’t make it to the next stage.

So what should your resume include to ensure you have the best chance of being considered for the job of your dreams?

1.     A Career summary that sells your story. In 2 to 3 paragraphs include

  • Years of experience
  • Specialty area, industry/s
  • Job title i.e: Senior Executive with over 15 years leading finance teams as a General Manager Finance and for the last 5 years as Chief Financial Officer with abc company.
  • Mention brand name companies that you have worked with
  • Mention size of budget/ revenue that you have had responsibility for and the size of teams you have led
  • Incorporate your strengths
  • Highlight a “career achievement” that you “hang your hat on” that will demonstrate why you are good at your job
  • Note your qualifications and awards

2.     On your front page include 4-6 quantifiable career achievements that really demonstrate why you are a great leader. Choose the achievements that you really hang your hat on! Where you can use words like Increased, Decreased, Transformed, Grew, Developed, Initiated etc it makes for powerful statements. As you are selling yourself for a job, choose your achievements that align with what the job advertisement is asking for.

Now hopefully your front page is really selling you. Next under your career experience include:

  • A short statement about each company you have worked for, take it from the “About Us” page. Also include the website url which will allow the reader to explore further if they don’t know the company.
  • Write a short paragraph about what your role involved and then include at least three quantifiable achievements for every job.

Hopefully you now understand what I mean when I say, “sell me don’t tell me.” If you tell a story that demonstrates why you are great then you will have a stronger chance of getting to the next stage.

 “If you don’t sell yourself then someone else will and they will get the job of YOUR dreams!”

Fiona Cochran is an Executive Recruiter and Executive Career Coach with over 15 years experience. Fiona regularly coaches executive candidates to achieve job of choice with employer of choice. Alongside business partner Richard Triggs she is conducting a one day career workshop for leaders and board members who want to stand out from the crowd and accelerate their opportunity to have a new career in 2017. CLICK HERE for more information.

The thought of networking makes me sick!


Talking with a coaching client last week we were strategising ways they could aim to meet their potential employers of choice. I started asking about their industry networking events and they turned to me and said…

“The thought of networking makes me sick! Walking into a room of people I probably don’t know and coming up with small talk is worse than going to the dentist!”

Having coached hundreds of executives on getting their next career opportunity or board role this comment is not uncommon. However as an executive the art of networking is one that you need to conquer as there will be many situations where you need to make small talk and try and engage with complete strangers.

Networking does come more naturally to some more than others. So how can we make it less painful and more enjoyable?

1. Be able to articulate who you are, what you do and your usp – Some articulate it as “Name, Same, different”. Introduce yourself, what company you are from, define what the company does and your differentiator, your unique selling point.

The best way to do this is to write it down until it sounds right and then practice saying it “naturally” (the operative word).

2. Ensure you have read up on current affairs and have a couple of ice breakers in your back pocket – ideally sport and social affairs not politics! Have a comment/ questions that you can put out to the person/ group you have joined.  “I can’t believe how much we lost to the All Blacks on the weekend – did you catch the game?”  It needs to be something that will start a conversation but not evoke a fight!

3. Have some general questions you can use to learn more about the other person.  The majority of people in attendance at a business function ideally want to expand their network just as much as you. They too will more than likely be nervous and dislike having to walk up to complete strangers to start a conversation. So what is appropriate to ask?

  • What line of business are you in?
  • What sort of challenges do you solve?
  • Who are your key clients?  What geographies? Do you work with…?
  • How is technology changing your industry?

Be curious as people love to talk about themselves and their business. Don’t be afraid to say I haven’t come across your business before, exactly what do you do?

Networking is one of the hardest parts of many peoples jobs, particularly when you are going to an event by yourself.  Personally I don’t love it, however once I’ve got through the door and walked up to the first person or group I see and introduced myself I find the nerves wash away.  Meeting new and interesting business people that may or may not be able to help my business is great. I love to hear about what others are doing in their business that is new or unique.

And once you are back at your desk connect with those you met on LinkedIn.

Today is National Networking day and AIM is holding events around Australia – take the first step as you never know where it may lead for your business.

Happy networking!

Fiona Cochran is  a Managing Partner with Arete Executive. She is an Executive Search specialist that works with executives and boards on business critical roles across Australia.  She also coaches executives on their job search strategy to achieve job of choice with employer of choice.  Connect with Fiona on LinkedIn.

Paul Grainger – CEO – The Brisbane Club

0c8aaa0Paul Grainger CEO The Brisbane Club Reflects on a Career in the Hospitality Industry & Talks the Importance of Having a Thick Skin and Fine Sense of Humour.

Paul Grainger is CEO of The Brisbane Club, one of Australia’s premier private clubs with a tradition of excellence since 1903. The Brisbane Club is home to over 2200 local, international and interstate members from the professional and business industries. Paul is currently responsible for the operation and strategic direction of the club, reporting to a board of directors. It’s a role Paul approaches with commitment and passion, he is someone who thrives on responsibility and who has dedicated his entire professional life to working within the hospitality space. He has some excellent insights about the unique challenges and rewards of working in the industry, which he shares on the Arete podcast.

Paul was born in the United Kingdom, the eldest of two brothers. His father’s work as an engineer meant Paul’s family travelled extensively, and he spent some of his formative years in unusual locations, such as Nigeria. His early experiences instilled him with an open mind and world view. Paul has the ability to communicate and collaborate with people from all walks of life, backgrounds and cultures. It’s an attribute which has been key to Paul’s success in the hospitality industry.

Paul is a self confessed lover of “all sports,” but since a young age, has had a particular passion for soccer, or ‘football’ as Paul, perhaps more aptly, refers to it. He graduated from a Bachelor of Science in Sports Science and Leisure Management with Honours from The Manchester Metropolitan University, and played semi-professional soccer to fund his studies. Paul’s expertise as a leader within a club environment and as a hospitality manager took him to Hong Kong, before he relocated to Australia. Prior to joining The Brisbane Club in 2015, Paul was General Manager of Brisbane Polo Club and General Manager of Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club. Since 2008, he has been Director of Leisure Strategies, providing consultancy and boutique executive services to the private club, recreation, golf, spa and leisure industry. Paul lives in Brisbane with his family.


Paul on LinkedIn

The Brisbane Club


Build your profile to build your business brand

Guest blogger Linzi Boyd discusses buidling your personal profile to build your business brand.

Brand famous imageWhile the importance of brand is becoming well understood by business leaders, we believe there’s more to it than simply ‘brand’ alone. We’ve identified three key pillars to help clients jump their businesses smoothly: brand, people and purpose.

Why build your profile into an asset?

In this article I’m concentrating on the ‘people’ aspect of brand because in the digital era ‘people’ has become as important, if not more so, than ‘brand’. Why? Because the new school way of doing business is ‘people buy from people’. Customers, in particular, want to see the people and culture behind a brand and to trust in the business’s authenticity.

Aligning ‘people’ with ‘brand’ improves an organisation’s brand ‘realness’.

Let’s begin by making it personal. Connecting your brand DNA with your personal DNA gives your business a more authentic voice. This in turn enables the market to engage with you, your business and your products more readily.

First, developing a strong personal brand (or profile) in the market will attract more clients, converting into revenue growth for the business. Second, you can influence the market by becoming an influencer in your industry. This is further enhanced when you reach the level of influencing other influencers.

Pull…don’t push!

Ask yourself, ‘Would I rather chase business or have it come to me?’ How does it feel to know you must chase business every day? Tired, exhausted, energy drained? As an entrepreneur do you want to wake early to chase clients and work late to chase markets? It’s draining, makes you feel like quitting and it’s all too much. We call this pushing the market.

The opposite is pulling the market. Imagine waking up leisurely and grabbing a coffee with your partner. You open your computer and in pop all your clients, plus a speaking engagement, plus a global article request, plus a podcast engagement in Australia…

How does that happen? You have a profile!

A business leader with a profile similarly opens their inbox to opportunities. People ask to work with them, they’re given speaking engagements, journalists and bloggers invite them to write articles and influential people look to partner.

Suddenly your profile is working for you and you no longer have to push the market. The market is pulled towards you and clients follow. Brand is powerful because people are the pull. Do you have the market pull to influence your industry?

Who’s Googling me?

Brand is about more than the business in isolation. It’s personal and reflects people within the organisation, particularly the CEO. Remember that once someone has Googled the CEO, they’ll also Google the management team and partners. Everyone does it yet few of us realise people will Google us too. Who thinks they’re being Googled? No, not me!

When speaking to a room full of business owners and CEOs one provocative question I ask early is ‘Who wants to be famous?’ One, maybe two, hands go up and then silence. With a smile I follow with, ‘Who wants to be known for making a difference in the world?’ More than half the room begin to raise their hands.

‘Who’d like to be well known as a leader within their own industry sector?’ This question engages most of the room immediately, laughter rippling around as the penny drops. After all, being known within your sector is being famous. Fame is just a state of mind!

Build your profile, build your brand

Coming from the world of celebrity and influencers, I understand how the power of profile can drive your business. So let’s take a look at the four types of profile you could build.

Stamp collector fame: you’re known as an influential person in a niche sector. Your audience has 60,000 followers on social media, yet nobody outside the industry knows your name

Guru fame: like the Richard Branson model, you’re as famous as the brand. Who’s more famous, Branson or Virgin?

Celebrity fame: famous for being famous! Many celebrities are known for endorsing brands rather than owning equity in their name. This situation is shifting as celebrities become more business savvy and is a model for the future of celebrity fame.

Celebrity fame is spreading into the business world too. As you become influential and your fame moves out of ‘stamp collector’ and into other industries, more organisations will want you to endorse their brands. They will ask you to put your brand with theirs, put your name with their brand, tap into your community and so on.

Advocacy fame: a popular model within the business world where a group of business leaders influence a market within a given industry. This could be people from within the organisation/brand or external influencers such as Nike using Michael Jordan (Air Jordan) and other celebrities. Nike never had a face like Richard Branson so they always use the advocacy model.

Influence the influencers

Remember the earlier example of opening your computer to see all the opportunities flooding in? What if your profile were strong enough to influence the influencers, those people with a following of 100,000+ people? Imagine how that affiliation would impact your sales and business growth when those people say they want a conversation with you.

If you can influence an influencer to open their network to you, you don’t need to monitor thousands of followers. You only have to connect with the right ones because a strong profile provides you with access to new channels.

Business leaders are still spending millions on their business brand while forgetting to build the brand of their people. Businesses have yet to realise that aligning their brand with the profile of people in the organisation will enhance the brand and open even more channels to market.

Linzi Boyd is an international branding expert. If you would like to learn more about the courses she runs in Australia, UK or Canada please contact us.

New Financial Year Update

BAS Boardroom April BNE40894As we launch into the new financial year  Arete Executive is enjoying a very busy period, both in terms of our executive recruitment services, and also our career coaching and advocacy.  In my discussions with CEOs and Chairs, the job market in South East Queensland still seems to be slower than in Sydney and Melbourne.  That said, there is still a reasonable amount of hiring going on across most sectors other than Mining (which remains fairly stagnant from a recruitment perspective).

From the employer’s perspective, whilst there is a high volume of pro-active candidates applying for roles across most sectors and skill sets, it’s still important to remember that senior executives need to be treated with respect throughout your hiring process.  We are seeing the vast majority of job advertisements now having no contact details of an internal recruiter/hiring manager for them to call; and also often these candidate get no acknowledgement of status their applications, in many instances for months after submission if at all.  You want all applicants to have a positive experience, even if their applications are ultimately rejected.  This is something I would urge you to spend time investigating within your organisations to ensure you are happy with what is actually happening.

From the executive candidate’s perspective, the hidden job market is accounting for more and more hires than ever before.  LinkedIn has completely changed the way organisations now access talent, and LinkedIn also now gives you unprecedented, direct access to your employers of choice.  If you aren’t already doing so, I strongly encourage you to start directly contacting your employers of choice via LinkedIn, follow up with a phone call, and get in front of them before they know they need you.

The Arete Podcast continues to grow from strength to strength, with over 50 interviews recorded at the time of writing this.  If your CEO or Chair is interested in being a guest on the Arete Podcast, I’d welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about how that can happen.

I trust you have had a successful 2015/2016 financial year and the new year looks even brighter.  If we can assist in any way, please don’t hesitate to touch base.

Why you should never use LinkedIn’s default connection reques

A key element of the enormous value of LinkedIn is that it provides you with a platform for a targeted job search.

Ten years ago, it was much, much harder to find people who were working for your dream employer.

Today, you can find those people in a few seconds. LinkedIn gives you a means to contact them and begin to build a professional relationship.

But…you realise you’re not the only person who’s going to be contacting them, don’t you?

You realise they’re probably getting connection requests every day, right?

Especially if they work for a great company that lots of people would like to work for.

So it’s vital that your approach is as professional and engaging as possible.

Your first impression

The very first impression your target will have of you is from your connection request. I’ve written before about Jim Lecinski’s Winning the Zero Moment of Truth concept and how it applies to job seekers.

Well, the connection request is your Zero Moment of Truth.

How do you want your prospective connections to perceive you?

As someone who just hit the blue Connect button without more than half a second’s thinking?

Or do you want them to understand something about you and WHY you want to be connected?

Keep in mind that you will have no idea of this person’s personal policy on which connection requests they accept. Now I personally accept every connection request, because it’s valuable to me to have a very large network on LinkedIn.

But your target might see their LinkedIn network very differently. They might only connect to people they’ve worked with or who they actually know.

So you should always assume that you need to persuade them that you’re worthy of connection.

Beyond the default request

LinkedIn’s default connection request says “I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn”.

Now that’s perfectly polite. But because it’s the default, if you use it then it means you’ve put no thought into the request. It looks like you don’t care whether or not they accept.

Plenty of people tell me that they don’t connect on principle when they get the default request.

Well, you can’t afford to have your connection request refused, because you want to build that professional relationship that I talked about earlier. You know, the relationship where this person provides you with advice and insight that helps you land your dream role with this amazing company!

So you’re going to put a lot of effort into your connection request. You’re going to read your target’s profile closely and glean information that SHOWS you’ve read it.

You only have 300 characters (with spaces) for a connection request, so you need to make every word count.

Here are two examples:

Hi Joe, I saw your profile when researching [company]. I was glad to see you’re a civil engineer like me as I’d love to join the team there in a project role. I hope you’ll accept my connection as I’d like to know more about opportunities at [company]. Kind regards, Fred Smith

Hi Joe, I saw your profile when researching [company]. I’m looking to join a company like yours where I can use my skills in IT transformation to deliver massive cost savings. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards, Fred Smith

Those two examples are 277 and 256 characters respectively so you can see there’s plenty of scope to create a message that is personalised to the recipient AND gives some key information about you.

You’ll dramatically increase your connection acceptances when you use a personalised message. And you’ll open the door to an exchange of information with someone who’s already working for your employer of choice. How good is that?!

Sending a quality connection request is an important part of your outreach program, so make sure you take the time to get it right.

By the way, if you do accidentally click that blue button and it sends a default request to someone, you can withdraw the request. Go immediately to your Inbox and click on Sent mail. Click in the subject line and it will give you the option to withdraw, without notifying the other person. Phew!

I’m sending you my best wishes for your job search success.


Richard Triggs is the Founder and Managing Partner of Arete Executive, one of Australasia’s leading executive recruitment companies. He has championed the practice of helping people to “headhunt their own job” and you can find more advice about this in his book Uncover the Hidden Job Market (available from Amazon). You can also subscribe to Arete’s newsletter for useful information and resources. Follow Arete Executive on LinkedIn.

Richard has an organically built network of over 25,000 connections on LinkedIn and you are warmly invited to connect with him.