get me home

We started our blog as storytellers of travel. Exhilarated by big cities and charmed by waterside villages, for a while the world seemed smaller and travel was easy. Considering we are caught in a year gripped by panic, travel stories are taking a very different turn. Many of them unheard and unseen.

Some years ago, I was slighted with Airport Security when they impounded my 120ml bottle of hand lotion.  It seemed trivial and pointless, taking me out of a jam-packed line to interrogate me over an unnecessarily generous jar of cream. But being in bottle neck airport lines is exactly what most of us are craving these days. Tantalizing beachside images of long sunny days splashed across our TV screens and insta feeds. It doesn’t help that it’s peak winter in Sydney as we are threatened by another wave of lockdowns. But holiday blues aside, the real business now is getting a one-way ticket, with people yearning to criss-cross the globe to get where most of us have been for the past few months, home. 

Homeward bound

What would you do if you were the young woman in Dubai, caught in the Covid travel crisis unable to return to Melbourne as planned? Struggling to pay her rent back home, she’d overstayed her holiday and struggled to scrape together her airfare. It had taken almost 2 months. When she reached the Airport with her ticket finally in hand, she’d been bumped off the flight for being the plus one when the passenger log reached 50. Still in Dubai, it’s unknown when she will return. It’s a waiting game for her and many others.

Or the father in Malaysia who decided to take his 3-year-old son across the border to meet his grandparents. When his job called him back urgently, they willingly offered to have their grandson stay with them for a week or two. Then the borders closed. It would seem unlikely to most of us that this little boy is still overseas with his grandparents. With no special permissions being given, it’s hard to explain to a child why he can’t be with his parents.

Running out of money, losing jobs back home while still paying rent and taxes, people are becoming desperate and frustrated. Landlords or hotels/guesthouses can’t operate without charging and some people are being asked to leave. Where will they go? There are people selling their clothes and belongings in exchange for an exorbitantly priced ticket. Many of us might think boarding a plane is just a few clicks away. In reality with the limited flights and passenger numbers, even when a flight opens up, the wait can take weeks.

We’re all in this together 

The ground swell of collective thinking and community action in these times is absolutely what we expect and need from governments right now. But it has come at a cost to people, one by one. These are the stories we don’t hear every day. Yet Facebook groups and others are alive with very real struggles that people are facing.

Think what it’s like to be the woman from Brisbane who was overseas when she received news that her mother had been hospitalised. She did manage to return to Australia and is now in quarantine. Hers is a unique situation as her mother lives on a small farm where there are two houses. When her mother was released from hospital, she tried to get an exemption to quarantine in the other house. This way at least they could see each other, if only though the lounge room windows. Her request was denied. It seems hard to understand the logic. Wear masks and play by the rules? Absolutely. Yes, we have each other’s backs and a way of life to protect, but the sometimes-heavy hand of the law seems misplaced in the middle of family.

Travel memoirs of a different kind

Mainstream media (that’s another blog for another time) reels over and over again the same dozen or so stories, mostly local, carefully selected and we are so often sheltered from the bigger picture. Even as we move around freely, people have some unimaginable experiences they will carry with them forever about being locked down and locked out. The personal weight of these stories is heavy. You’d be forgiven for wondering if our reaction isn’t a little farfetched. Especially when the real motive for many people right now is just to get home.

On a grassy hillside a small cream brick hall overlooked the driveway. It’s weathered  green eaves and window frames matched with the sprigs of new growth and native trees surrounding the campsite. It looked so picturesque, perched against the forest backdrop but in just a few hours it would become the dormitory for our Cub Scouts. The rain was heavy in the sky again but for now, the sunshine had pushed its way through. Cars started rolling in with bundled up sleeping gear packed high against the windows, squishy kid’s faces pressed against them. Pillows and laughter tumbled from the backseats into what would be our campsite for the weekend.

Many hands

Volunteering for the weekend to help with 20 energetic 9 and 10-year-old was a first for me. But ever since my own wild child had joined, I’d been eager to jump in and help out. A swag of other parents were on hand along with the cub’s leaders who had the weekend laid out with just the right doses of adventure walks, craft time, bush discovery and life-learning, for both us and the kids. The Dads took over the kitchen in a sort of Jamie Oliver free for all; piles of mince, chopped tomatoes and diced onions filled the little kitchen in the food hall, fervidly sloshed into enormous pots. We laughed, us gals on the sideline, thoroughly entertained by the lavish herb tossing. By nightfall the rain had set in and while it might have hampered our campfire efforts, the singalong was in full swing. 

It takes a village

It’s true that every child is different. And because of that, the way we parent kids is also different. Their distinct personalities influence a lot of what works in the uncertain world of parenting. I’ve tried, tested (and tossed) plenty of activities to energise my son and hook him onto his happiness. Some stick and some don’t. Some come with too much competition, some feel elitist, others just don’t hold his interest. That’s why the communal world of Scouts is such a refreshing alternative for kids and families. Run by leaders who are in every sense the salt of the earth, giving of their time with generosity, humility and earnestness. In Scouts everyone has a place, everyone has opportunity, connection and a sense of belonging. 

Be the change

Some days I find primary school overwhelming. There just seems to be so much pressure on kids with after school activities, wide-ranging social issues to contend with and a diversity of subjects that feels like the volume has doubled from my school days. There’s hardly a chance for downtime and not everyone can keep pace. Yet for all the academic, sporting and social expectations on kids, we’ve still overlooked some of the inherant know-how and smarts that kids need to develop into capable, resilient and likeable grown-ups. And this is why Scouts can offer something that nothing else can. Fresh-air, zero screen time, the great outdoors, mixing with kids from all backgrounds, community fundraising, creating something out of nothing and jumping into activities otherwise unexplored.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

Sunday morning at camp was soggy and grey. The kids scattered into the bush, clambering up the muddy slopes to play hide and seek before packing up. If it wasn’t for the fat leeches squirming inside their wet socks, they might have stayed longer. On the coastal drive back home, the hours quickly filled with stories of friendship and outbursts of laughter. Another early Spring camp marked off the calendar.

As a member of a Sea Scouts group, our summer months are spent canoeing along the river until sunset. I can hardly think of a more uplifting way to spend a weeknight during busy city school life. Everything done is with a sense of relaxed community and as parents, we ebb and flow on the sidelines. There’s a clear tradition upon which Scouts is built, blended with the individual nature of each child. It makes for a collective and unpretentious little neighbourhood, where the door’s always open.

All photographs courtesy of Scouts Australia online images

good resume

There’s plenty of conjecture around what a great resume should look like and people have some pretty strong opinions on the optimum language, style and structure. But like most good writing, it needs to tell a story – your story. Having clicked on thousands of resumes, I know from experience that first impressions really count. Within a few viewing seconds, managers will naturally decide if they want to read on. So, what are the key elements of an impressive resume that will grab attention? Here’s my quick guide to writing a great resume.

To be or not to be

This is where it gets interesting – do I include a photograph or not? Is it necessary to include my address? And what about my date of birth? Well, the short is answer is “no,” none of these tell the story of your ability to do the job and that’s what we are looking for. The question good hiring managers and recruiters are asking themselves as they read through your resume is “how aligned are these candidates’ skills and experience to the vacancy I have?”

Follow a format

A great resume will follow a clear and simple structure that will give the reader a snapshot about who you are. Think of it like the summary on the back of a book you’re interested in reading, or topical headlines. As a guide, your resume will include:

  • Contact details – Phone, City, State, email and other relevant contact details such as your LinkedIn profile (a good tip is to include your contact details on each page)
  • A list of your key strengths and skills
  • A summary of your education qualifications and courses undertaken, including memberships.
  • A list of your technical expertise if this applies to your role
  • A summary of your work experience that outlines your role, responsibilities and achievements
  • Any volunteering work you have done
  • A note about your referees (specifying the name and company is seen by some as a plus)
  • Some people like to include an objective as well personal interests, if you do choose to include these, keep them relevant.

Make a statement

Find ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Good font selection, a pop of colour, clear discernible sections will help you achieve this. On the other hand, too much colour, too many icons and colour blocks can be distracting. A great resume will certainly have components of these but try not to over clutter the pages. Clear, concise and engaging is a good checklist to consider when crafting your resume. 

Less is more

One debatable aspect of resume writing is length. I’ve seen resumes that are 2 pages long and include only the last 3 roles of a candidates’ experience and others that are detailing their first job out of school by the time I get to page 10. A great resume will be interesting, insightful and informative so when you’re writing your resume think about balancing the information to keep the reader engaged. As a guide, generally 4 pages reflecting your professional expertise is the right length to hold interest.

Expert eye

Getting some assistance or a professional opinion about your resume is also a good idea. Apart from engaging a professional resume writer, there are a lot of clever templates available online. Or, as you are going through the recruitment process, ask your consultant for feedback on your resume. The upside here is that they will know your market and have seen plenty of resumes applying for similar jobs.

You might want to check out this handy link on skills to include in your resume.

See our other recruitment articles on job hunting and some tips on what recruitment will look like after lockdown.


Navigating our new normal

Yesterday was the first day in a while I’d gone out, other than the oasis of Coles. I did my hair (well, pulled it out from a scruffy top bun) and wore shoes. It was a kids tennis lesson after all. I stopped on the way back at a 7-Eleven and though the line of 3 people spread the entire shop length, I felt the dust fall off my shoulders and smiled awkwardly at a stranger while we pumped furiously at the sanitiser hitched to the wall. It gets me thinking, when the veil of iso is lifted, what will it be like to step back into the real world?

We’re all thought leaders

It’s been astounding to see the out of the box solutions people have found to keep boredom at bay and business thriving. Hardly a service or celebrity hasn’t brushed up to keep pace with the changing times.Yes, necessity has been the driver for all invention. We’ve seen huge amounts of generosity, boundless creative energy and a whole new world of work emerging.

As a recruiter, here’s how I envisage the world of work might change after lockdown and what fellow recruiters might see on the job front.

Our changing world of work

  1. More people looking for a shift to working from home (now that we’ve got used to it, we can see the upsides). Whether full time or one day a week, flexibility is the new job currency.
  2. Agility and adaptability will be key. This crisis has shown us that adapting to new work structures, picking up unfamiliar job functions and being able to take on surprise responsibilities outside our job scopes is the new norm.
  3. Part time jobs may be more in demand as people opt for better balance to pursue their new found creative interests. Along with this may come the longing for flexibility in work structures and working hours.
  4. People may switch gears and embark on following their passions, seeing the end of lockdown as the perfect time to begin something new. 
  5. While there will be a new influx of candidates in the market, some who ride the wave will be loyal to the organisations who supported them through this crisis. This may mean less movement at the senior and niche skilled candidate levels.
  6. We’ve seen an obvious rise in online products and services. Just about the best set of skills you can equip yourself with will be within the digital space. More jobs with a digital focus will be on demand and the talented and digitally savvy candidates will be able to command more.
  7. Face to face interviews might be a thing of the past, at least in the early stages of the selection process. With this, recruiters and hiring managers will need to be flexible and may need to offer greater access to their candidates for online interviews beyond traditional business hours.
  8. If being in the office each day is less mandatory, this opens up a greater candidate market for roles being located remotely or flexibly. Without the limitation of location, a much broader candidate base can be engaged.
  9. As people continue to be concerned about health and well-being, organisations with a good social heart, solid well-being programs and contemporary leave policies may offer more candidate appeal.
  10. Covid-19 has no doubt brought out the very best in us and our empathy for each other. More than ever we’ll need to build genuine relationships, deliver a first rate human service and offer outstanding candidate care.

Read more about the future of work beyond Covid-19 here

It’s day one of remote learning, or what I like to think of as home schooling, mid-west style. I’ll flit from baking, to plucking seasonal herbs to helping with algebra and by 4.00pm we’ll be done, just in time for The Bold.  There we were this morning at the dining room table, my 9 year old and I, eagerly awaiting the remote learning portal to unlock at 9am and for today’s lessons to be shared. Logins successful, welcome video from teacher aptly amusing and first writing task outlined. If only I could get my kid out of pj’s and off that damned device! Probably too early for freddo frogs. By 9.20am I ask him what he’s writing about. He’s staring into space but I choose to think he’s exploring a highly imaginative theme for his persuasive text. Not so. After some time he realises he’s not sure of the topic so decides it’s time for a nap. It’s 9.40. 

We move onto maths, but not before I get asked if tomorrow he could take a day off school. By now I’m picking myself (and the laundry) up off the floor. He thinks this home routine is way too imposing and deserves a break. Quite right. Thankfully for me, today’s maths looks like something I can handle; coordinates. Like most gals, my map reading skills are faultless so I think I’ve got this in the bag. Except I’ve just remembered I have a job too and my email starts pinging. Then, blaring through the apartment speakers, the fire alarm sounds as the building tests their evacuation drills. I’ve never seen anyone close a lap top as quickly as my son and prepare to escape. He’s taking this test very seriously and frightfully disappointed that we’re not going anywhere. And nor is this lesson to locate pineapples on a grid. I want to know if it’s recess yet.

In truth though, I am relishing every moment of watching him read and understand, hesitate and question, stop and start. And because (as anyone who knows me knows) I don’t see anything wrong with leaping into an impromptu dance number, we do that too. He’s asked me for a two hour lunch break. I’ve given him a hug instead and he’s equally thrilled. I’ve secretly always wanted his childhood to slow down a little and maybe this is not far off…because on days like this I get to see more, watch more and share more. And while my fifth grader is navigating his way around his online learning, uploading like a pro and putting my computer skills to shame, I wonder if pressing the reset button on life as we’ve all had to do for the moment, is maybe the best lesson we’ve had in a while. 

All about gratitude

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