Category Archives: Career Articles

Finding Success in a Frantic World!

My last post created a lot of debate about adapting to the changing world of work in the 21st Century.  As the Information Age continues to shape and change the way we interact with each other, it speeds everything up and it’s easy for us to lose focus on what’s really important ……..and that’s to slow down and take stock.

 

We are all in such a hurry, frantically finding quicker and smarter ways to achieve success and move on to the next best thing; to tick off our ever increasing to-do lists and be more productivity.  However, whilst Technology and the Information Age drives us on to achieve more, quicker and harder, our brains have not evolved at the same speed!

 

 

What we need to realise is the secret to better productivity and success is actually doing less!

Allowing ourselves the time and space to do nothing in particular more often than not, provides us with the opportunity for creating new ideas.  We are just not allowing ourselves time to rest and think properly!

 

We are spending so much time trying to find happiness and fulfilment in our jobs and our lives by running around, exhausting ourselves we are getting sadder, sicker and causing some serious harm to the planet trying on the way.

 

It seems we’re not getting happier we’re just getting busier.  With every passing year we are more stressed, overwhelmed and busier than ever before, getting all that ‘stuff’ done.

As a Career Coach, I am seeing more and more clients who are starting to realise this and want to slow down and catch their breath; to ask themselves this one important question “is this making me happy?”

 

I work with clients helping them to slow down and reassess their core values; what’s fundamentally important to them.  Because your values are who you are in your own deepest nature, not who you think you should be in order to fit in or what your peers, the media and the 21st Century tells you.  When your values are being met life feels very good, your actions feel right to you and you feel in control. When life and your career stops matching your values, then things feel wrong, uneasy, discontented.

 

When that happens it’s time to stop.  Time to listen to your gut instinct and that nagging voice in your head that’s telling you it’s time to change.

Invest time in yourself and search for what’s really important to you. Be clear about what your values are and if they’re being met and take time out to think clearly without all the noise.  If you’re interested in purchasing my ‘Values Cards’ just get in touch!

 

 

 

 

 

Photocredits –  Victoria Heath on Unsplash Katie Moum on Unsplash Mubariz Mehdizadeh on Unsplash Aron on Unsplash

 

Is the Traditional CV Dead?!

I have recently been working with a group of clients, discussing how the world of work in the 21st Century has evolved.  One of the biggest changes noted was how we apply for jobs now and as a consequence of that; how the role of the ‘traditional CV’ has since become outdated.

 

Curriculum Vitae is Latin and roughly translates to mean “the course of my life”.  Traditionally, it was a reflective document about us and our employment history.  It would include a photo, personal information such as age, marital status, children and a whole range of things we would never consider revealing about ourselves now!

 

Employers are no longer interested in the ‘course of our lives’. They want to know what skills, experience, knowledge and qualifications we can bring to their organisation in order to improve their revenue.

 

Employment Legislation now protects us against discrimination, so we are no longer judged unsuitable because of  because of how we look, or our age, whether we have children, our race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or our health.

 

We now live in a society that embraces diversity and recognises we have a wider range of gender profiles other than just ‘male and female’.  This has created a lot of discussion in the HR and Recruitment industries about introducing and promoting ‘gender neutral’ CV’s and recruitment campaigns; and why not?

 

Why do employers need to know our gender in order to make informed hiring decisions?  It’s no longer relevant.

 

Technology has also had a huge impact on Recruitment, with CV’s being scanned and shortlisted using Artificial Intelligence and Applicant Tracking Systems and Software.  Now A.I, instead of human beings, read our CV’s and take the hard work out of the sifting process for hiring managers.  A.I does all the hard work searching for key words and phrases looking for evidence of how we meet specific job criteria.

 

Social Media is now such an integral part of our daily lives that if we are not ‘searchable’ on social media we appear to be out of date. The latest statistics show at least 78% of employers will search for you on social media websites and will expect to find you on Business Networks such as Linked In.  Depending on your line of work and industry, if you don’t have a strong, professional, online presence this could really hamper professional credibility!

 

Organisations are now readily promoting the use of the ‘online CV’s’ where candidates are asked to upload a 2 minute visual presentation and sound-bite about themselves and why they want the job.  No CV writing required!

 

People are now carrying personal business cards with their Linked In URLs, personal web pages, mobile phone numbers and email addresses so they can instantly exchange contact information and set up networking meetings for possible job opportunities wherever they are.

 

We are living in a technological and digital age where parents are choosing their children’s names based on whether there is an equal domain name available so their child can have their own digital identity as they grow up!

 

All these changes are happening now and are constantly evolving.  We need to keep up and keep current so we can continue to keep relevant in today’s dynamic and fast moving employment market.

 

If you need help to bring yourself up to date in today’s job market, why not book a free telephone consultation with me via my website.

 

The Power of Reflective Practice

I have been doing a lot of work on the subject of ‘reflection’ lately.  Traditionally, reflection isn’t something we tend to do.  In fact we will tend to avoid it and even consider it as a waste of time!

Few people are naturally strong reflectors.

In today’s world we are swept up in ‘instant everything’; instant messages, emails, answers and knowledge.  If we need to know something, it’s usually only 3 clicks away.  However, what do we know about ourselves?

When was the last time you took a good long look at yourself?  I don’t mean in the mirror just before you rush out the door to go to work or on a date, but at who you are, what makes you – you?  What are your strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, motivators, qualities and personal traits?  What are you really good at?  When did you last look at yourself critically and openly in this way?

For some of you, the only time you’ll really get to think about critiquing yourself is when your manager is about to write your annual appraisal.  Then all of a sudden you have to start thinking about what you have done in the last 12 months and quickly cobble something together you can report back on.

However, reflection is important as all learning requires an element of reflection – “what was that about?”, “how does that affect me?” etc.  It helps us to find meaning and can be very effective in dealing with change.  Yet, it can also feel uncomfortable, so we avoid it and procrastinate.

Practicing reflection is very powerful – however, the answers don’t always come straight away, they need time to come to the surface.  For some people doing activities that don’t require a great deal of ‘brain activity’ such as running, walking, swimming or gardening can really help.

Think about a lesson where you learnt to be a good manager or team player?  Did you learn that from a training course?  Probably not!  We learn from experience.  We are able to reflect on our own experiences of working with or working for bad managers or colleagues as well as good managers and colleagues.  We use reflection to determine what good or bad looks like or behaves like.

It’s worth noting you cannot write a good CV without reflecting on your career highlights, your transferable skills and strengths.  You cannot succeed in an interview without spending time reflecting on your previous achievements and successes.

Equally, what do you know what your personal learning styles are?  For example do you learn best using Visual (spatial), Aural (auditory-musical), Verbal (linguistic) or Physical (kinaesthetic – through touch) experiences?  Knowing this could really help you in your job, when you’re are learning new things and when you are working with others and understanding their learning styles too.

Reflection can really help you identify areas for improvement, not just in your work life but in everyday life.  How do you interact with others? Do you steal the energy in the room or do contribute to it harmoniously?

We under-value the power of reflection.  Without it we may be guilty of making quick and rash decisions that are poorly thought through.  With it we can take time out to identify issues, possible patterns and themes or long term behaviours that have gone unnoticed or hidden.  Reflection helps us make the right choices and gives us permission to check in with our gut –instincts as well as other people’s views and opinions.   It can make us better employees, better managers, better decision makers and overall it can help make us better people.

So why not give it a go?  Try making a note at the end of each day about one thing you have learnt or observed about yourself using reflection.  Practice doing this every day.  It will not only help you see things more clearly, but will also help enlighten you and give you some fantastic personal insight!

What does the word ‘Career’ really mean now?

Have you considered what is meant by the traditional word ‘career’?  Punch it in to ‘Google’ and it comes up with this:

Career  =  An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress”

However, the digital and technological revolution we are experiencing is moving at such a rate, we need to ask ourselves what the word ‘Career’  really means now.  In particular, how long are we really expected to be working?!

 

The ‘60 Year Career’ is becoming the new ‘norm’ and like everything we have to evolve and change to fit in to this new state of play.  The goal posts haven’t just moved …….. someone or something has grabbed them and run off in to the distance!

Joking apart, what does this really mean?

Well, for those people over 50 years of age, they would have traditionally been working towards a retirement age of around 55 to 65.  So, for many of them this is no longer a reality. The goalposts in their case have really moved and it’s highly likely they’ll be working until their late 70’s!

For some, they are using this as an opportunity to move in to new careers they are truly passionate about.  They really want to continue working and earning until their later years.  They’ve been given a new lease of life and want to stay current and continue to be active in work and the community.  People in their 50’s and 60’s are more likely now to consider having a complete career change.  They have the chance to tap in to some new opportunities they may not have been able to consider in earlier life.

For some, it is essential to work longer for financial reasons.  It will be purely a means to an end to secure their care and lifestyle for when they reach their older years.  Again, those traditional assumptions of when we reach those older years are different.  If we just cast our thoughts back traditionally to when our Grandparents were in their late 60’s, they were very different to those in their 60’s now.  We are keeping fit, travelling, running businesses, posting on social media and enjoying life rather than putting our feet up and leaving it all to the ‘youngsters’!  We are a very different ‘older generation’.

However, those ‘youngsters’ are today’s ‘Millenials’ and the word ‘Career’ looks very different again to them.  Career isn’t about signing up for the long haul.  It’s about seeking new opportunities and recognising their career journey could be heading for job roles that haven’t even been invented yet!  How do you plan an education and a career when it’s still being defined?

They are working harder, faster and smarter with different agenda’s.  They want to move around, travel, explore and challenge the status quo.  They are inventing and re-inventing our world and they are the one’s driving the Career agenda of the future.  They’ve got our gold posts!  They are the new generation.

What do these parallels have in common?

Being clear about what you are passionate about and what you really enjoy in paramount.  Building on your personal brand and keeping up to date with market trends; knowing your own strengths and motivators and aligning your skills to them is essential so you’re not left ‘behind the curve’!

If you are clear about these then you can adapt to change no matter how old you are or where you are in your ‘Career’.  Whether you are starting out, winding down or setting off in a totally new direction; every day is a learning day.  So focus on today and see what tomorrow brings.

What are Employers Really Looking for?!

There are only three main areas an interviewer is interested in:

1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you do the job?
3. Will you fit in?

Can you do the job?
Questions in this area are intended to probe your background. It is unlikely you would have been invited for interview if your qualifications and experience on paper did not match the criteria for the job. Most interviewers therefore will spend about 15% of the interview on this area.

Do you have the required qualifications?
If the job is very technical, you may be required to demonstrate greater in-depth technical knowledge in the interview. Be prepared to verify and back up any claims you make regarding qualifications and so on. Employers are increasingly using the services of data agencies to verify details given on CVs and application forms. Avoid ‘little white lies’ such as upgrading your A Level results. A small fib found out will undermine your credibility totally.

How does your previous experience meet the requirements of your target role?
Your job is to make sure you highlight how your experience and qualifications match the job you are targeting. Think about what they are looking for before the interview and make a list of your key selling points. If the interviewer doesn’t draw this out of you, then you need to tell them.

Will you do the job?
Interviewers are interested to know why you are applying for their particular job. Most interviewers will spend around 15% – 20% of their time probing your reasons for change. What is your motivation for putting yourself forward for this job? If the only reason for applying for the role is because it’s just round the corner then you may need to focus on something more positive about the company.

Why do you want to work for this organisation? What do you know about this organisation? What are your constraints regarding location / hours / flexibility etc?
Find out as much as you can about the organisation and reflect this back at the interviewers in your reasons for wanting to work for the company. You might consider they have exciting products or service concepts, or an outstanding training programme, or present great opportunities for personal development. The more you know about the organisation, the better armed you will be to make a considered choice about IF you want to work for them. The interviewer will appreciate your seriousness in doing your research.

Will you fit in?
The crucial question for most interviewers is will your face fit. Interviewers will spend around 65% to 70% of their time probing your work style and personal characteristics. If you are a good match to the organisational culture, other aspects of your experience and qualifications may be considered less important. At the end of the day, no one wants to employ someone they don’t like. The acid test is whether they could see themselves sharing an office with you. Here, your unspoken communication is just as important as what you say. How you dress and how you handle yourself give off vital messages. Do you look like you’re already one of the team? Do you dress smartly? The key is to look like you already belong. But, above all, be natural. If you put on a performance, chances are you won’t be comfortable in your new environment, and it won’t be long before your colleagues realise it too.

All Change?

I like change!

I like to try different ways of doing things and taking on new challenges. They don’t have to be major changes, sometimes they may just be subtle, however, my philosophy generally is ‘Change Is Good!’

I recently decided change my hair and have something different. Apparently “a change is as good as a rest”?! So, I got it cut short (having sworn I’d never do that again!) and put some major blonde and red colour through it! One of my friends said I had #hairbravery and I really like that! However, let’s face it, if I don’t like it (and I do), I can grow it back and I can dye it again – I don’t have to spend the rest of my life looking the same!

So, this got me to thinking about our attitude to change in the workplace. I have been working with a number of employers and key clients on this very subject. When organisations and companies, big or small, start to undergo any form of restructuring, streamlining or growth the one word everyone appears to dread is ‘CHANGE’.

So why do we fear change?

We all live in a world of constant and continual change and therefore it is a part of our daily lives. However, when it comes to the work place we tend not to like it. We start to become suspicious, not only of the change itself, but the management team making the change and even our own colleagues. The rumour mill starts to kick in and suddenly it’s a free-for-all for speculation and those ‘Chinese whispers’ (we’ve all been there!)

Some people become more vocal and resistant to change whilst others seem to become more introverted and withdraw from it altogether. If it isn’t handled well the negativity formed through bad communication can be devastating!

We all have a natural ‘fear of the unknown’. If we don’t understand why the change is happening, what the effects will be on the organisation, the department and more importantly on us as an individual, we will fill those gaps of information with negative thoughts. We will rarely assume the best or automatically be positive. Our nature is to be suspicious and retain the status quo. If something threatens that, well, we tend to come out fighting!

So, how can we react better to change and make it a more positive experience?

Firstly, assess the facts and what you actually know, not what you assume, what others have said or what you think may or may not happen.

Change is more often than not a GOOD THING. It brings about new opportunities and ventures, better ways or working, future prospects and progress. It creates a new status quo.

Consider, how can you embrace this change to make it a positive action in your life? Get involved and join in so you are part of it and feel you have some control and contribute to it positively.

Remember, if you don’t agree with it and don’t like it nothing is stopping you from making your own changes to deal with it.

Don’t let change be done TO you – make sure you are part of the change – embrace it and learn to like it!

#lovechange #bepositive #hairbravery

Using Visualisation to Identify Career Goals

Most people fall in to their careers purely by accident. Suddenly they get to a stage in their lives when they think “how did I get here? And “how did I end up doing this?” More often than not, it isn’t what they really wanted to do in the first place and it seems almost impossible to think about doing something else now. So they continue along the path they were on at the risk of becoming more and more dissatisfied with their own career choice.

 

Could this be you?

What is important to remember, is YOU choose your career direction – it is not made For you it is created BY you.

Everything you have done until this very moment, whether it has been a conscious or unconscious decision, has been your decision.

The biggest and bravest decision to make now is whether to continue on this path or take a different direction.

To find out if you are doing the right job, ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

1. If all jobs paid the same, what job would I do?
2. If I knew I couldn’t fail, what job would I do?
3. If I was given a magic wand and could create the job of my dreams, what would it be?

What do your answers say to you?

If you are doing a job that really interests, motivates and inspires you, not only will you enjoy it and feel happier than you ever have, but you will ultimately become a success! Studies show that success does not necessarily translate in to financial reward (thought it’s always nice!) but is about doing something you enjoy, that gives you a sense of satisfaction and personal reward.

If your answers are indicating you are not doing something you want to do and you would like to do something different, well, why not start exploring what that might look like and think about how you can achieve it?

Career Coaching is about helping people to explore their transferable skills and identify what motivates them. It’s about exploring all the options and eliminating many of the barriers preventing them from realizing their career potential.

Here’s another little exercise you can try for yourself. Draw your own life line on a piece of paper starting with your date of birth at the far left. Now created your ‘personal life line’.

Mark an “X” to show where you are now. Notice just how far along the line is the “X”? Consider, what you have achieved until now and think about how much time has passed? What jobs have you done? What did you enjoy and what were your successes? What have you achieved so far?

Next, look at what remains on the right of the “X”. Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve? How much time do you have to achieve that? If your earlier answers indicated you’re not doing a job that really makes you happy, then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about what you would like to do and how you might be able to achieve it.

Career Coaching is not an overnight fix, and magic wands are in short supply. However, if you really want to change – you can. You are in control of your own career and ultimately you can always change direction.

“If you do not change the direction in which you are going, you will end up where you are headed” – Confucius

“Er Can I Have Your Attention Please?!”

Today our attention span is just a matter of seconds!

 

We live in a world where everything is instant, fast moving and constantly changing!  We are easily distracted and eager to move on to the ‘next thing’ whatever that may be.

 

Therefore we need to think about how we interact with others to ensure we haven’t lost their attention.

 

Given how the most successful way to find employment and new business is through networking, ‘winging’ your personal introduction is no longer an option. You only have a tiny window of opportunity to capture someone’s attention and transform it into success.

 

Dealing with that all encompassing question “tell me about yourself?” is therefore tricky!!

 

You can be asked this question at any point, not just at interview, but when you are least expecting it.  It could be during a networking event or a social encounter with someone who is well connected.  So, it is vitally important to be prepared on how you are going to answer this question.

 

Consider what your audience are asking – what do they want to know?  They don’t want to hear your life story… “I didn’t get where I am today…..”  and they don’t want to hear anything negative either.

 

They want to know who you are, what you do, what you are good at and how you can be of value and perhaps where you are going – where is your career taking you?

 

So who are you and what do you do?  I may seem like such an easy question, but applying a ‘label’ to describe you and what you do is very important. You need to describe this in a language your audience will understand instantly.

 

For example, “my name is Karen Munro and I am a freelance Career Coach and Facilitator.  I work with clients from both the public and private sectors and also work closely with Military Service Leavers transitioning out of the Armed Forces.  I am passionate about helping people reach their career potential”.

 

Describing what you are good at and how you are of value is fundamentally important to clarify your credibility in the job market.

 

If you are looking for a new opportunity or a career change, then you need to be clear about it.  It is important to articulate everything clearly and with confidence.  If you don’t sound sure about what you are saying, your audience will most certainly not take you seriously.

 

Keep your message short, punchy and clear in order to keep within that short attention span.  Don’t be caught out trying to think of something on the spot that will sound impressive.  It’s too important a statement to just ‘wing it’.

 

PRACTICE  PRACTICE  PRACTICE!!

 

Get used to how it sounds, get used to adapting and changing it and get used to saying it naturally.  No one wants to hear a rehearsed sales pitch, it needs to sound genuine.

 

Next time you are in the car stuck in traffic or on a long journey, turn off the radio and just practice talking about yourself and what you do and what you are good at.  Do this regularly and it will start to feel more natural and genuine.

 

That way, next time you meet someone who asks you “tell me about yourself” you will be able to naturally reel of your personal introduction.

Time to Reflect

reflectionJanuary is a great time for reflection on the year that has passed. However, it can also be a time to look back with regret about the things you haven’t been able to accomplish or achieve and can it can become a difficult time of year for many of us.

However, January should be a time to embrace where you are right now. Remember how you got here. Was it through hard work, talent, good or bad luck, playing it safe or perhaps from taking risks? Chances are, it was a bit of everything and it’s important to recognise that everything you did had a consequence – it got you to where you are right now.

It’s important to take responsibility for your actions and to learn from your mistakes.

What did you learn about yourself last year? How can you use it to improve your focus for the year ahead?

January is notorious for being the month when people make a concerted effort to improve things, do things differently or even change direction.

You may be looking to improve your current job, get a promotion or even get a brand new job or career.

Improving your job may be about a range of things from changing your attitude to work, approaching things differently as well as taking on additional responsibilities to make your job more enjoyable.

Remember, “If you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life”

If you’re looking for a promotion, embrace it as a new challenge and use everything you’ve learnt about your job and yourself over the last 12 months to help you seek more responsibility and new opportunities.

Finally, you might want a new job or even a complete career change.  Perhaps the one thing you’ve learnt about yourself over the past 12 months was that you didn’t actually want to do the same job any more.

Changing your career can feel like a huge hurdle and most people will think about it, perhaps even talk about it but will find it more challenging actually making it happen.

Change takes time and dedication.

Time? Because in order to achieve it you need to map out a path towards your goal and start to break down the steps you need to take to get you there.

Dedication? Because if you really want to take that journey and change your career you have to dedicate your efforts towards what you want to achieve.

Making peace with the past can help you embrace the future.

Wishing all my readers and followers a very happy and prosperous 2017

Prepare to Win in Your Career like Team GB!

team gbI thought I would write this months’ article to keep the spirit of the Olympics fresh in our minds.

Athletes spend years training and preparing for their chance to compete at the Olympics.  They will work hard to visualise and bring their goal in to reality.

When you are looking to secure your next job or next career, you also need to take your time and prepare.  Just like Team GB it’s important to have your goal in sight and to spend every day preparing and training to reach your goal.

Train hard. Don’t give up at the first hurdle.  There will always be hurdles, sometimes there will be lots of them one after the other but it’s about tackling them one at a time and being focussed about continuing towards your goal.

You cannot, and should not, expect to get there straight away. 

Imagine your career goal is a 10 on a scale of 1 – 10.  You are at step 1.  You cannot get to 10 without going through stages 2 through to 9 in sequence.  So, if you know what 10 looks like, you know what your goal is and you know what number 1 looks like because you are there.

It’s much easier to plan, prepare and train for your career goal if you break it down in to bite sized pieces you can achieve gradually.  It will also be easier for you to measure your progress.

Steps 2 – 3 are all about research. 

You need to research your career goal thoroughly.  What does it look like and what skills do you need? How is the job role or industry doing in the current jobs market?

Steps 3 – 4 are about identifying your transferable skills.

Be aware and be confident about what you have to offer. Analyse and identify what you have to offer as we typically under-sell ourselves.  Make sure your skills are demonstrated loud and clear in your C.V.

Steps 5 – 6 are about identifying and tackling any obstacles.?

Is there anything preventing you from achieving your career goal? May you need to do some further training or qualifications . You might need to gain more experience and perhaps some voluntary work or work experience could help you with this.  In difficult times, voluntary work can be rewarding and stimulating and it can also equip you with the additional skills and experience you need to make the transition required in to your next career

Steps 7 – 8 are about networking

Who is in your network who can help you? Who could you be connected to?  Maybe consider expanding your network.

Steps 9 – 10 are about reaching your goal – winning the gold!

If you work hard and put yourself out there you will succeed and reach your goal.  

“Don’t dream of winning, train for it”!  Mo Farah