Outplacement or Career Transition?

Supporting Organisational Change with ‘Outplacement’

You might be working for an organisation that is looking at laying off staff due to the need to cut costs or because you want to become more efficient. If so, what are your thoughts about how you might support the staff who will be leaving as a result of such organisational change? For many people in HR and Operational management roles, aside of ensuring that correct policy and procedures are adopted, to comply with appropriate employment law, the word ‘outplacement’ is likely to spring to mind, when considering both the process for laying off staff and also the support required.

What’s in a name?

I have never liked the term ‘outplacement’. However, here’s the thing…as a company that provides such support, in order to be found on web searches and for marketing of our services, we are arguably obligated to still use this term, if we are to be found by organisations and especially HR managers looking to source providers. SMP Solutions takes great pride in our reputation and caring approach, so we sought the views of a number of our clients and key contacts and took the decision to change of our focus, preferring the term ‘Career Transition‘ instead. Not an easy decision, in view of the comments above. However, as a people focused company we felt this was a positive move.

Why? Because ‘outplacement‘ very definitely has negative overtones i.e. someone is being ‘outplaced’ of their organisation or the organisation is ‘outplacing’ a number of employees. In essence people are having something ‘being done to them’. ‘Career Transition’ by comparison suggests a journey or movement. Yes, it is a time of change but from something to something else, rather than one way enforcement ‘out’. ‘Transition‘, can also certainly be viewed as a positive experience and many people associate this with ‘transformation‘.

You may feel this is all semantics, as whichever way you look at it, the organisation will be laying off employees, so what difference does it make what you call the process or support involved.

But what if it really does make a difference?

Just think about the difference it could make to both the employees affected and the organisational psyche by starting such a difficult organisational change process in a more positive vein? I will be sharing more thoughts about this in future blogs.

Definitions of Outplacement

Knowing that ‘outplacement’ is a term mainly used in HR, operational circles and by people who have been on the receiving end of it, I decided to check out definitions via a Google search. They were easy to find and here is a sample. You can make up your own mind about what message you feel they send out:

  • “Counseling and assistance in finding a new job, provided by a company for an employee who has been or is about to be dismissed
  • “The process of assisting a terminated employee find a new job”
  • “The process of finding new jobs for people in your company who have been forced to leave because their job no longer exists”
  • “A service that offers counselling and careers advice, especially to redundant executives, which is paid for by their previous employer”
  • “Outplacement is the efforts made by a downsizing company to help former employees transition to new jobs and help them re-orient themselves in the job market”

Can you imagine an employee who wants to know more about outplacement and does a similar search as I did? The words above in italics, are some that will clearly rankle with an already distressed employee and could ‘add fuel to the fire’! Whilst some of the text in each comment has merits, the definitions are generally demeaning and inappropriate. Comments about being ‘dismissed’, also ‘former’ or ‘previous’ employer are written in the past context, so are inflammatory and inaccurate.

So, by focusing on offering ‘outplacement support’, although an employer may have the best of intentions, the result could be that the very people who it is aimed at and who will benefit from the support, could turn their back on the opportunity. Unfortunately, the reality is it that the only loser in such acts of defiance are the employees who choose not to  take up the support.

The benefits of a well planned and delivered ‘career transition‘ programme

Managed well, focused ‘career transition‘ support will provide your departing employees with the tools they need to have the best possible chance to find the right next job for them.

For an employer laying off staff, providing a well planned and delivered programme of ‘career transition‘ support, will do much more than help overcome the immediate needs of your departing employees, to find another job. Such an approach can also become be an invaluable source inspiration for those affected to re-evaluate their careers, open up a whole new world of opportunity and possibilities, so they can look forward to the future with confidence.

While cost is a key consideration for most organisations, a ‘one size fits all’ approach, although better than nothing, is unlikely to produce the best results for the affected employees.  Showing a caring attitude and having a programme of career transition support to reflect people’s differing needs, should ensure that employees leave on good terms, whilst also sending out positive signals to the rest of the workforce.

The result…..

A win, win for both the departing employees and for the employer by creating positive PR, which is likely to aid employee engagement, productivity and staff retention.

So, do you now, like me, also think that ‘outplacement’ is an outdated term that should be made redundant and consigned to ‘room 101’?

The jury is out! I would love to hear your views 🙂

Steve Preston is MD of independent Career & People Development Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd and Author of the internationally acclaimed ‘Winning Through Redundancy- Six steps to navigate your way to a brighter future

Why everybody is in Sales, even you

Have you heard the saying that ‘everybody is in sales’? If not, you might be wondering how this can be and where this is going?

Sales Perception

For many people the very mention of ‘sales’ is a dirty word and sends shudders down them, conjuring up visions of pushy double glazing salesmen, estate agents (real estate) annoying spam phone callers or emails.  Does this sound like a familiar perception?

You might also be thinking that in your job or career you have nothing to sell, especially if you work in the public sector/services. However, the reality is that you don’t need to be in a ‘sales job’ or have a product or service to sell. Regardless of whether you are in HR, IT, Finance, Marketing, private, public or charity sector or running your own business, you will need to ‘sell yourself’ in numerous work situations e.g.

  • To win at an interview and get the job
  • Secure a contract or project
  • Gain promotion
  • Get approval for training or development you are aspiring to

Let’s face it, as professionals, we spend our lives ‘selling’ ideas or decisions you want your boss, staff or team to buy into e.g. a better way of doing things, the need for change, who you should hire, fire etc.

Selling Yourself at Events

When you attend conferences, seminars or networking events, depending on your job or situation, you are likely to be selling what you or your company/organisation has to offer and how this benefits others. I’m sure you do this almost as second nature, without thinking about this as selling? I experienced a wonderful example of this at a networking event which I will mention later.

Selling Yourself to Progress Your Career

You might be an aspiring executive or manager in which case you will need to sell yourself in many ways in order to achieve your desired goal by way of:

  • CV/resume
  • Job applications
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Interview/s
  • Networking meetings

Again, the reality is that people who are good at selling themselves, get on in life. I’m sure you know people like this who always seem to get promoted, move into better jobs or be successful in their careers and life. So what do I really mean by ‘sales’? After all ‘selling’, for many people, means forcing people to buy something they don’t really want doesn’t it?

A different take on ‘Sales’

What if I substituted ‘influencing‘ instead of sales’, how would this feel? Quite possibly this might put a different perspective on your views?

But what do all successful sales people have in common? Think about how they make you feel? They make you feel good, don’t they? Why……because of these:

  • Sincere – Great empathy, engaging and no bs!
  • Attitude – Enthusiastic, positive, encouraging, confident, passionate
  • Likeable – People ‘buy’ people or from people they like
  • Energy – Nothing is too much trouble, always going the extra mile
  • Solutions focused- Looking for a win, win e.g. right fit, right product, right answer to the problem or challenge

These are clearly all highly positive personal attributes. Therefore, use this SALES acronym to help you think differently and reframe how you feel about ‘sales’ and selling yourself, your company or organisation.  

What if you had a simple approach to selling yourself in any situation? 

That would be great, wouldn’t it? 

Well, here it is…….practice the ‘RUB’ approach, as a super simple way to influence people and achieve more of what you want and win, win solutions:

  • Rapport –  Learn how to build a bond naturally so you are quickly on the same wavelength to achieve a mutual ‘meeting of minds’
  • USP/s – Your unique selling proposition/s . Might be considered an old hat term but focus on selling what makes you different or better and stand out
  • Benefits – ‘Sell’ what value you can add/ how you can make a difference/ solve the problem or take away their ‘pain’. Get people or prospective clients to imagine how this would look or feel so they almost have to say YES!    

The RUB

Living Proof!

The wonderful example I mentioned earlier, was in fact a young intern who so clearly had all these ‘SALES’ attributes and was unwittingly using the‘RUB’approach to great effect.

Despite their young age, they absolutely stunned me with their rapport building skills, commitment and determination, travelling hours and miles each week for only travel expenses. They were going the extra mile literally! They had also gone to great lengths to research the opportunity, understand what was required and make sure they secured the internship.

They had a great energy about them and enthusiastically ‘told’ me all about the product they were helping to develop and why it was so useful. I was ready to buy it from them if it had been fully developed! Having learnt what I and my company does in the Career and People Development field, they then went onto share great maturity and wisdom about what they wanted to achieve in their future career. Also, why they felt it was important to follow your passions, doing work you love, rather than focusing on purely financial gainThis was clearly from the heart, without any bs as they gave me a brilliant example of how they were making ‘sacrifices’ to be able to save what little money they did have, to be able to create the working lifestyle they wanted. It was evident they hadn’t read my current book either!

I was so impressed I have asked to interview them for my next book project on Portfolio Careers, as they are a great example of a young person with great entrepreneurial skills who is likely to earn a living from multiple talents and multiple income strands. I am sure they will be a great success because they clearly know how to sell themselves and what they believe in, which is great!         

Reframing the sales process

Many sales organisations, courses and business gurus spend much time focusing on ‘closing the sale’. What if you turn this around so your focus becomes that people choose to buy from you instead? How much pressure would this take off you when you are selling yourself at interviews, business meetings etc? There are clearly some key techniques and skills involved such as NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which can all be learnt and like most things in life practice and persistence pays!

So, you might not have thought about it before but do you now see that you are ‘in sales’? Why is this so important? Because ….The more you develop and hone your influencing skills the better results you will achieve in your career and life!

 

Are you in the right job?

Are you in the right job?

Most people fall into 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.

How to find out if you are in 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? So, are you in the right job?

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 a line on a piece of paper with your date of birth at the start and your estimated year of death (without getting morbid!) at the end. You have now created your ‘personal life line’.

Now mark an “X” to show where you are now.  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?

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 to the 3 questions 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, so you are in the right job – 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

Thank you to Karen Munro, Career Coach in the SMP Solutions team for providing this blog.

SELF EMPLOYMENT – STARTING OVER AGAIN

Self-Starting Again

According to Barclays Bank 81% of entrepreneurs said they are happier now in self employment than when they were employed.  The same survey reveals that 71% were more optimistic, 63% were busier, 54% were more relaxed but that only 30% were better off than when employed.  The remaining 70% were obviously feeling the effects of losing their corporate packages or their businesses are still getting established and maybe in the process of building a business base.

When asked why they wanted to start their own businesses 44% said they wanted to build a big successful business, while 47% wanted to continue earning a living.  The final 9% wanted to either supplement their existing income or wanted to create a secondary income. The source for these figures is from the Barclays Bank website dated of 25 September 2014. 100% chose to start again.  They chose self employment to take control of their own career and life, be in the driving seat and put themselves and their families first. Look again at that impressive 81% who said they are happier now.  Could that be because they have re-modelled their work/life balance themselves?

Become a Free Agent

Maybe you are reading this because you have had enough of the corporate world, working for a large institution, working for other people’s visions and dreams or you might be facing or recently experienced redundancy? Either way, you have decided to take a long hard look at your working life and are keen to make changes. If so, you could become a free agent! With self employment you can be your own boss, take control, and have choice and the final say in what you do for a living, when you do it and how you do it.

Not everyone is an entrepreneur in the Dragons Den sense of the word. Not everyone wants to invent the next generation of vacuum cleaner or start their own airline.  However, self employment allows you to direct your talents to fulfil your life plans.  In the 21st century digital age, many skilled professionals opt for the simplest and most cost effective option of self employment i.e. to sell their expertise to individuals and / or organisations online or develop a service based business from home with a desk, computer and mobile technology. Having minimal overheads and maximum flexibility, rather than expensive office premises when you are starting out, is an attractive proposition. This means you keep the majority of the income you make, so it becomes much easier to start making a profit and a reasonable living.

Self Employment – Success Before You Start Up

Success Before You Start Up Book Cover

Despite all the positive statistics from Barclays, most businesses fail in their first two years of trading. Why is this? Because the business owner hasn’t done their homework. ‘Self employment seemed like a good idea at the time’ doesn’t wash if you haven’t thought things through properly, does it?  It is remarkable how often we come across people who haven’t done the basics such as:

  • Considered why you want to start a business i.e. what is the purpose and what are your goals?
  • Researched the market and the competition
  • Established whether there is a need or demand for your product, service or business idea
  • Developed any sort of business plan
  • Thought about how best to get your product or message across to make sales or earn income
  • Evaluated whether the business can make money

Passion is great but don’t overlook the essentials

It is great to have passion for what you do, as people buy people and your passion can become infectious. However, all too often, new business owners get carried away by the excitement of setting up their business and the passion for their products or services and overlook the reality that passion alone is not enough to create a successful business. Self employment means there is much hard graft to be done to ‘get out there’, network and sell and market yourself and your business like crazy both online and offline! There are many other considerations e.g.

  • Do you want to work alone?
  • In collaboration with others?
  • Employ a small team? If so where will you be based and how much can you afford in salaries, rent, rates and other overheads
  • Have you worked through how much you need to sell or income you need to generate to achieve your desired business and life goals?
  • Who will do the key administration and financial tasks?
  • Should you be vat registered?

Depending on what you do in your business and who you work with, you also have different options for setting up your business as a Sole Trader, Limited Company or Partnership. The first steps in any of these approaches are the same and it is very easy, once you know how to go about this but it makes sense to get good advice before you start trading.

Self Employment – Making it happen

Self-employment or starting up your own company can be hugely rewarding as the Barclays statistics highlight. It has never been easier than now to set up and start a business. If you would like practical help to set you on the right path to becoming self-employed then please contact us as wouldn’t it be great to start off on the right footing, so you really can enjoy the fruits of your labour and become one of the 81% who are happier now than when they were employed?

www.smp-solutions.co.uk

Photo – Everest at dawn courtesy of David Smith

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A VIDEO INTERVIEW

The Rise of the Video Interview

In recent years two-way video chat job interviews have grown in popularity and it is clear why. Modern computerised devices whether stationary or handheld come with built-in or support webcam functionality. Using video, the interviewer is able to pick up on important clues such as body posture, physical gestures & facial gestures. Likewise, so can the candidate with the added bonus of saving  valuable time by avoiding long journeys or taking lots of time off work, if employed. The following preparation guide to video interviews will help you alongside traditional interview best practices.

Never Turn Down a Video Interview Opportunity

For a great number of job candidates, the video chat job interview is likely to be a new experience. You must always come across accommodating and positive even if you feel anxious concerning this type of interview. Read on as there are many ways to prepare for this type of video interview.

Install and Configure The Video Interview Software

Well ahead of the interview time, you should download, install and configure whichever software the recruiter or employer had asked you to use. Typically, Skype is used because it is free and you can install it on any operating system (Window, Apple etc.). If you are new to Skype then choose a profile name and upload a profile picture that is professional and appropriate for the purpose. You can quickly learn how to use the software by searching YouTube for tutorials. Once the software has been configured, you may need to email the recruiter or employer with your username.

Prepare A Backup Device

If you have access to two devices with webcam functionality, you will do well to install the software on both. Just in case anything happens to the default machine, it is good to have something to fall back on. Typical scenario will be to install the video interview software on your pc or laptop computer and maybe another tablet device. This isn’t essential but you will come across well prepared to the interviewer should the need arise.

Prepare Your Notes

Any notes or supporting material from your research or to help sell yourself in the best light are best organised well ahead in advance. The microphone on any modern communication device is particularly sensitive to background noise, such as that from searching and shuffling documents, so you want to come armed already prepared for your video interview.

Think Carefully About Your Video Interview Area

Unlike face-to-face interviews, which often take place at the employer or recruiters offices, for a video interview, you have to be mindful of a number of key aspects:

  • Internet speed must be sufficient (broadband speed) and dependable
  • Wired Internet connection is preferable over wireless connection
  • Background noise should be minimal
  • The backdrop behind you must be suitable for the occasion
  • Ensure you won’t be interrupted
  • The area must be well lit, so you can be seen properly

There is no reason why the video interview cannot take place at your home, providing you can meet all these criteria. Just double check the area behind you, close the door and ask other household members to refrain from interrupting you.

Dress From Head to Toe

It isn’t sufficient to dress only above the belt. For one, the interviewer might get a peek of your entire stature and secondly, dressing professionally from head to toe helps with getting into the right state of mind. Spend time on the Internet researching the company (website and social profiles), industry and competitors to determine suitable interview dress code. If in doubt, err on the side of being slightly over dressed.

Test Yourself

It is important to practice, so an exercise in the form of mock interview will allow you to experiment with the software and with the overall challenge. Ask a family member, friend even an agency recruiter to conduct a mock video interview with you.

Just Before The Interview Starts

Switch off all non-essential apps and software to avoid noises and disruptions. Get yourself organised and ready 10 minutes before the scheduled interview time. Test your speakers and microphone, as it is essential you can be heard and you can hear the interviewer. You don’t want the stress of any problems when live in your video interview. Best not to switch off your mobile phone in case the interview is disconnected and the interviewer is trying to ring you, so have it on vibrate. Place it in view but away from the computer’s speaker, as it might create static noises.

During The Interview

Look directly at the webcam as this is the closest to making eye normal contact. Avoid looking at the screen or around you, as you might appear disinterested. It helps to place the interviewer’s video window right underneath the camera during the interview, so your eyes are looking in the right direction. If the video interview is disconnected, allow the interviewer (as the initiator) to call you back. At the same time check your Internet connection and switch on your backup device. Check your mobile phone in case the interviewer is calling you back. If all fail, suggest that the interview continues over the phone. Don’t miss your video interview slot as the candidate after you might impress the interviewer and you might not get another chance.

End in Style

At the end of the video interview, send the interviewer an email thanking them for their time and offering to answer any questions or concerns they might have over the phone or a further video chat. Good luck. Written by brewery and drinks recruiters the Carling Partnership Ltd (CPL). A leading international search and selection company working exclusively within the brewing, distilling, cider and soft drinks industries for SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) blog.

Winning Through – Your Route to a Brighter Future!

Winning is a powerful word whether you see, read or hear it. Winning conjures up a vision of success, of victory, of accomplishment. Winning is a word on a pedestal of its own, linked to feelings and emotions associated with the highest levels of personal achievement.

Winning delivers an end result.

You run in a race and you win. You experience a winning feeling. You achieve your desired result. However, in your endeavour to reach this pinnacle moment, what did you have to win through to actually achieve it?

Winning through is an altogether different concept.

To successfully win through anything in life, it is vital that you have a process or series of steps to follow or be guided by. Consider something you have achieved for yourself in your life, career or business. How did you achieve your successful end result? How did you get started? What happened along the way? What ‘mountains’ did you climb? How and when did you realise you had ‘arrived’?

Did you ‘see’ the process?

Regardless of whether you are an individual who believes that instinct and luck is all you need to win, these two beliefs inadvertently present you with a process you must follow before you can ‘win through’ any experience. Guided by instinct you will take a series of steps which lead toward your end goal, won’t you? The same goes for luck. Each ‘lucky’ achievement becomes another footprint and step to take toward you being luckier.

Much like a ‘navigation cycle’ leading to your success, don’t you think?

Picture the captain of a ship, on the bridge, his focus completely on a wild, stormy sea. As captain, it is his responsibility to navigate a safe route, to ‘win through’ the chaos. Using a process involving skills, technology and experience, the captain works out the best way to reach the destination; safely. In essence, he is guided by a process. Without it his ship may sink, all hands on deck lost. Not a winning through outcome.

So, will you arrive at your destination safe and sound or will you remain lost at sea?

In my experience, many people who face life or career changes such as redundancy and the fallout from restructuring, or separation and divorce, all too often remain ‘lost at sea’. Why? Because they feel the need to tread water, hoping that dry land will appear. Amid this time of uncertainty, the notion of winning through their current situation is usually so removed from their thinking. Have you experienced these feelings? Are you treading water?

Winning through can pave the way for clarity, focus, purpose and fulfilment.

Stop yourself from drowning by reaching out and taking hold of the life-ring. This will return you to dry land. Once you’re on the beach your task is to make a new set of footprints as you take one step at a time toward your new life or career journey. Make best use of a navigation cycle to enable yourself to clear your thoughts and gain a new perspective.

Now go forward with your newly discovered ‘winning through’ attitude!

 

 

Why Retire from Work? Simply Re-Tire your Life & Work Instead!

‘Does retirement make you ill?’ was the topic of conversation on a recent Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2. During the lunchtime discussion, listeners were asked to share their thoughts about the impact retirement can have on your life.

Mark Littlewood from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) commented on one of their latest studies, which suggests that ‘almost 1 million people in Britain are now working beyond the retirement age of 65’. There are several factors relating to the reasons why this is the case, one in particular being the changing world of work.

Will you choose to retire at 65 or before? If so, how harmful is retirement for your health?

From the study carried out by the IEA, Mr Littlewood explained that even though the act of retiring can deliver a short-term boost, in the long-term it may trigger a decline in health, with cases of clinical depression and a need for medication becoming more apparent. Expressing his thoughts Mark suggested that ‘people can overlook the benefits of work, such as travelling to and from, the routine of working, and the social network of friends, together with the fact that being in work will allow you to be more affluent, which can impact on your level of happiness. If working longer keeps you happier, can a shift in thinking about retirement, become the tool to defuse the pension time bomb?’

Here’s a thought: what if you decide to re-tire your working lifestyle instead of retiring from work?

As mentioned by Mr Littlewood, when you work you maintain a level of physical and mental activity. Your work creates a routine for your mind to think, to move, to communicate, to interact and to solve problems etc. To help you reframe the way you think about retirement, you can develop a plan including your choice of structure, to replicate your working environment. Or you can simply reframe your mindset completely and re-tire the thinking around what work means to you.

‘My life is magic. To me it’s all about having a positive mindset’, remarked one 82 year old listener.

This dear gentleman, who continues to work with his grandson, said he does not wish to retire as his work gives him such great happiness and it keeps him healthy. What incredible sentiments. His mindset and knowing why his work is one of the greatest benefits for him personally are proof of how you can successfully reframe your thinking

Ignoring the US spelling of the word ‘tire’, how can you re-tire rather than retire?

Consider how often you need to replace tyres on your car. After 20,000 miles or so. Now think about why you change the tyres. To overcome wear and tear, for safety reasons, or for improved driving control.

Imagine you are facing the prospect of retiring from your work. Change your mindset to see your new ‘re-tired’ working lifestyle. Hold that picture in your mind as you discover why you’ve decided to work for longer, doing what you enjoy doing, together with the added benefits of happiness, fulfilment and good health.

When you re-tire your life you can:

  • Achieve Better Grip on the Road – you control what you do.
  • Drive Efficiently – economise your lifestyle, be flexible, stay healthy & happy.
  • Enable Smoother Cornering – enjoy the curves of your new road ahead, it’s your new journey.
  • Explore your New Tread –  this is your New Life Path, where you can ‘drive’ (work) for longer on your new road of choice, the one less travelled, your open road…

‘Re-tire’ your ‘wheels’ and inject your life with a new sense of purpose, perspective and well-being!

Discover more about how you can ‘re-tire’ your career, work or lifestyle by visiting our Career and People Development website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build Your Online Brand With Twitter

Did you know that there are 465 million Twitter accounts across the globe and 175 million tweets being posted daily? That’s a sizeable chunk of the world’s population mixed together with a massive amount of conversations taking place, wouldn’t you agree? Now that’s you’ve taken in the sheer size of Twitter what do these statistics say to you? Do you see how Twitter can be an incredible opportunity for you to expose your brand?

Twitter is a market leader in the world of social media. Since its arrival on the web in 2006, Twitter has shown rapid growth and continued success as a social networking and micro blogging platform which is ideally suited for business. So my question here is: How can you NOT have a social media presence, namely on Twitter?

Social media marketing continues to be somewhat of a grey area because it is difficult to justify its credibility and the return on investment in terms of spending. Many business owners will question – “What does social media deliver?” or “What are the tangible results?” These demonstrate the reality that social media, although a powerful method to engage with your audience, still has no benchmark yet. On a more positive note, implementation of strategic social media campaigns is proving to indicate an increased level of business success.

How can you harness the power of Twitter to build your brand online?

To develop a successful social media marketing strategy it is important to consider the positive aspects of your chosen approach. When you utilise Twitter as part of your online marketing mix you will benefit from being able to:

  • Open a channel of communication between you and your audience. Be human and join in the conversation. Like face to face networking, your followers will either ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ the feeling they get from the exchanges you share. Social media allows you to reach out and connect, so ensure you do so in a positive and welcoming way.
  • Raise awareness of your brand. Everyone strives to achieve greater brand exposure. Share good content and engage and interact consistently with your followers, and you will gain the attention of more targeted people. Your supporters will ‘talk’ about your brand and boost your online presence.
  • Create an online reputation. Set and meet your brand standard. Make sure your brand and business values are met with every tweet you post. Focus your post and retweets on building a trusted and mutually beneficial community of followers. Research how the big brands such as Disney and Virgin build their successful online reputations. What do they do that works? How do they encourage their followers to become their greatest advocates?
  • Build a network. Building a successful online brand is not only about you promoting what you have to offer. It is equally important to reciprocate, to create win: win opportunities. Think strategically about who you connect with. How can they help you and vice versa? Will they become a trusted supplier that you refer? Will they become a paying client? Do you see collaborative potential with them?

One thing is clear; social media is here to stay.

Now is the time to embrace this new social world; to join in the Twitter conversation, to experiment and learn, and focus on your goal to become the brand everybody is talking about.

The 100k Mindset

Changing the 100k Mindset

No, I don’t mean, you should change the way you think about earning 100k, if that is a goal you wish to aspire to. There is nothing wrong with this if it is right for you for all the right reasons. What I do mean is to change your thinking around the work you do to ensure you lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Why? Because 100k hours is the average time people spend working, commuting and involved with work related activities, including thinking about work, during their life. This suddenly becomes a seriously scary number, don’t you think? How many more waking hours does that means that mean you will be at work, doing your job, day in, day out…

Now ask yourself: Am I happy doing the job I’m doing? Is my job the best reason why I get out of bed everyday? Do I love what I am doing?

Most research shows around fifty percent of working adults in the UK and US are unhappy in their jobs and are looking for a more rewarding career. Many cite boredom, bullying, lack of career prospects, lack of training and development and not being valued as some of the key reasons why they are unhappy.

Are you one of the unhappy 50%?

If you are unhappy in your career consider the prospect of continuing to work for 100K hours in your current role. How does that make you feel? Chances are that you will experience these symptoms on a regular basis:

  • Panic on a Sunday evening about having to go to work on Monday morning
  • Dread on a Monday morning because you don’t want to go to work
  • Worry and restlessness at work from Monday to Friday because you simply don’t want to be there
  • Ignoring the little voice inside your head saying “It’s time to change”

Recognise yourself?

Lebanese philosopher, Kahlil Gibran quotes: “If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work”. When we look at the high level of unhappiness among working adults in the UK and US, this quote rings so true. Instead of getting paid to be unhappy, why not listen to that little voice inside your head and bring about change in your work and life?

Take control of your career, by changing what you do, and get paid to be happy!

That’s all good and well you say, especially at a time in the economy where household budgets are strained due to the rising cost of living. Is now the ideal time to change your career? Why not grin and bear it, remain unhappy, and receive your salary at the end of each month?

Reflect on the 100k hours of work statistic. Do you honestly want to spend that length of time in a constant state of unhappiness? Life is too short and there are so many amazing alternatives. Scared to take a leap of faith? The only way you will change how you feel about your work or career is to have the courage to follow your heart. Perhaps it’s a change of scenery, people or time for you to embrace something in your life you are truly passionate about. This can be your opportune moment to realise a lifetime ambition, and to give yourself a chance to love what you do.

Walk away from your unhappiness.

It’s up to you to create an escape plan and to break free of the tedium. You have the choice to do this. But what about your financial situation when you give up your well paid salary? Many people who are dissatisfied, disillusioned and unproductive at work are those who earn the most money. In contrast for many of the individuals I have worked with, who have taken a leap of faith and discovered happiness in their work and career, it’s not about the money. Happiness, purpose and fulfilment far outweigh the big pay cheque at the end of the month. Why? Because these people are now doing what they love.

So how can you move from unhappiness to happiness in your career? Take a high dose of self belief, say to yourself ‘Now is my time to do what I love’, and just do it!

Just think what you can do with the gift of 86400 seconds (one day) to get started on your road to happiness.  How do you feel about 100k now? Is 100k suddenly less appealing? Are you ready to change your mindset and take the leap of faith to doing work you love, as if not now when?

If this all sounds like a bridge too far, then you don’t have to make your change alone. Working with a career coach can help keep you focused, motivated and on track to achieve your ultimate goal. Maybe now 100k could take on a new meaning for you, don’t you think?

If you need help to change your career mindset check out our website for more information.

Graduates Guide – Your timeline to achieve success

Here is your one stop shop of tips to help you achieve your potential whilst at University and move from academia into employment!

Year 1

  • Remember this year is about settling in, that includes focusing on your work but also having some fun!  This is a big transition and you will need time to settle in.
  • If you need structure and want to prepare during the induction period and in advance of course starting – Access Personal Tutor Support as early as possible
  • Need help? – Access referencing workshops, Study support groups etc as these will be on offer at your University. There are also student mentors who you can be assigned to you that are in year 2/3 who can give you support and answer questions relating to the course etc – Speak to your University and identify the support available
  • Need to earn some money whilst studying? -Speak to Student Support regarding local part time employment options, universities also employ students within their campuses which can be less demanding and more convenient whilst studying
  • Speak to the Employment and Work Placement advisers as they may be able to help you secure and achieve relevant work experience during your holiday periods. Companies start to interview and employ Xmas staff at the end of the summer so you need to start early and be proactive!
  • Communication – Keep a check on your progress, speak to your tutors and make sure you are on course for progression to year two, don’t leave it until the final few weeks and have a last minute panic
  • Set up a spread sheet to keep track of work set and deadlines as Universities do not chase you for your work unlike schools. If you miss a deadline there are no second chances (expect in extenuating circumstances whereby your tutor has agreed to extended your deadline in advance)
  • Specialising – in many degree courses you will have to make choices on areas of specialism in year one which you will focus on in years 2/3. Make sure you research properly the demand for expertise in your chosen strands. It is not helpful if these are not sort after by future employers.
  • Consider Accommodation options for second year and start viewing after Christmas – early spring, all the best places go quickly!
  • Summer Placements – If you want to get more experience or just earn a bit of money when you get home for the summer, remember you need to register with local recruitment agencies for temp work during the Easter break and let them know when you are going to be finishing for the summer. A couple of weeks before the end of term call them again as a reminder. That way you will be ahead of the game, completed your initial assessments and ready to call them regarding a placement as soon as you are home. Don’t rely on the agencies calling you. Make sure you ring them regularly!
  • Network – You will meet with a number of people when you do temp work, get their details and if you like the company ask about opportunities for when you have finished your degree, it might be early days but it is never too early to make contacts!
  • Consider investing in some personal ‘business’ cards which have your Name, Email and Mobile number on. You can buy these online for a few £ and think how professional they look against scribbling done your details on scraps of paper.

Year 2

  • Identify companies and organisations which recruit graduates with your chosen degree, make early contacts. You might be able to secure a short term work placement which could lead to future employment.
  • Check if your University has established links with local organisations for work shadowing, work placement or paid employment options – summer work
  • Network with as many people in industry that you come into contact with, they may be the key to future employment opportunities – Don’t miss an opportunity to make an impact and don’t forget to use your personal card!
  • Attend Graduate Recruitment Fairs – Companies have different selection dates for their graduate intake and they may well have information and tips to share on their selection process for use next year
  • Secure Accommodation for year 3/4

Year 3 / 4

  • This is your final year full of demands and exams but it is of paramount importance that you use every spare minute on prompting yourself to potential employers
  • Get career advice during the summer break if possible so that you are focused on your chosen career route before the end of this important year
  • Graduate Recruitment Fairs usually take place between Sept – Nov, register for your ticket early, research the companies exhibiting, update your CV and take with you a number of copies. You may need different versions if applying for a variety of jobs.  You may have attended last year’s recruitment fairs however new jobs and exhibitors mean new opportunities.
  • Company Graduate Schemes usually open at the end of the summer – autumn, many have a very short application period – Identify potential scheme’s in advance, don’t miss out!
  • Remember there are a huge number of other graduates all over the country that you are competing with for that elusive job!
  • Research, Research, Research – Company profiles, brands, values etc. Make sure you have the skills, attributes and ‘look’ that fit their profile. Knowledge is Key!
  • Register with specialist agencies and subscribe to specialist publications which relate to your chosen career route
  • Investigate internships – many companies use this as a form of permanent selection as they will have had time to evaluate your contribution and ‘fit’ within their company before committing to a full time contract
  • Identify companies you would like to work for, if they are not advertising vacancies at the moment be proactive and send out speculative letters, state type of work you are looking for and outline your experience both academically and employment. Companies like people who show initiative, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
  • Above all else avoid finishing your degree course and still not having a plan about what you want to do next – Seek professional Education and Career support, it is worth every penny!

If you need help with your Education or Career choices visit our website for more information.