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

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.

3 Steps For Graduates To Making Yourself Visible to Prospective Employers

With unemployment high and graduate positions increasingly given to those with previous work experience – planning and organisation is crucial to making yourself visible to prospective employers. The following article provides some common sense tips and tricks that can help ensure you snag the best graduate jobs going.

Step One: Create and organise your ‘generic’ CV

Your CV is effectively a personal advert, its composition, content and structure are vital to your success. In a competitive market – a carelessly composed CV may see you fall at the first hurdle – don’t give your rivals an advantage from the start. Recruitment sites such as Guardian Jobs and others provide a multitude of guides on how to compose an excellent CV.

Be well organised – be sure to have names, numbers and addresses of any contacts that prospective employers may need to call for references. If you are a first time job-seeker, be sure to include details of any work experience or extra-curricular experience that you think may be appropriate – this can show initiative.

Once you have created a basic CV, tailor this according to the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a job in marketing, you may wish to promote your sales experience or interest in a related academic discipline.

If applying for an analytical role, you can accordingly promote your attention to detail and how this has been reflected in your studies.

Step Two: Get Your CV Out There

Do your research: use the internet to identify specific fields and positions in which you are interested, read the job description and requirements carefully. Remember that you will be competing with dozens of other candidates for this position – so have a back-up plan, apply for more than one position.

In the meantime, research potential work experience or training opportunities that, should you fail to obtain the job of your dreams, will give you a distinct advantage over candidates next time you apply. Standing still means you give the advantage to the competition.

Step Three: Use Recruitment Websites
Whilst you’re busy applying for the job of your dreams, be sure to contact multiple recruitment websites such as Guardian Jobs, and provide them with your CV. Recruitment agencies will effectively advertise your services to thousands of prospective employers across the world.

You’ve literally got nothing to lose by employing their services – and ultimately you may end up with an excellent job opportunity. Failing that, you may have the chance to garner vital experience in another role – once again this potentially provides you with a distinct advantage over the competition in future.

So you want to change your job or career?

The longer you have been in a job the harder making the break is likely to be.

Times have changed as there are no ‘jobs for life’.  It is accepted people will change jobs every few years. You should not view this as a negative but a positive sign of improving yourself.

It is likely most of us, including those looking for graduate jobs, will change professions multiple times in our working lives. This is much more challenging than changing jobs as successful career change involves key decisions about what is important to you in your life and your career.

Self awareness is the start point for change!

An honest review of your situation i.e. what needs to change and why?

  1. Identify your reasons – What is wrong and why are you thinking about changing jobs?
    • Is it the company you work for – maybe the culture or ethos no longer matches your way of thinking or working?
    • The job you are employed in – are you are unhappy with the work you are doing, lack of challenge, bored or stuck in a rut?
    • Do you feel that you are being taken advantage of, are not getting the recognition you deserve or maximising your full potential?
    • Are you are looking to take a step up the ladder but can’t see the way forward?
    • Maybe you have gained all the experience possible and now wish to broaden this in a new environment?
    • Do you need or want to earn more money?
    • You feel you need a complete change?
    • Are you are no longer getting the enjoyment, buzz or job satisfaction that you used to?
    • Is your work-life balance all wrong?
    • Are you are fed up commuting or maybe wish to relocate?
    • Do you no longer look forward to going to work and are generally unhappy?
    • You have even started thinking about setting up your own business?
  1. Is it the company, job or your career that needs changing?

  • By addressing the questions in point 1, you should be in a much better position to determine what is wrong and even more importantly why you need to change, as this is the emotional driver, which prompts action!

Right Company – Wrong Job

You like the company you work for and have no real desire to leave. However, you feel trapped and promotion or opportunities to diversify into other roles within the company are passing you by.

What are your Options?

  • You should take the bull by the horns and discuss this with your boss
  • Invariably an informal chat works best
  • Stress you are very happy working for the company but wish to maximize your skills and move into a new challenge to mutual benefit
  • It may not be possible to change jobs in the timescale you are aspiring to, if so you have a decision to make
  • Keep an open mind and you can start looking elsewhere to test the market whilst you decide.

If your boss or company really value you it may prompt them to find or create a new position. If not, keep your options open as what have you got to lose?

Wrong Company – Right Job

You love your job but feel that the company is going in a different direction.

What are your Options?

  • Focus on finding the right job but with a company you feel you will enjoy working for
  • You can afford to bide your time to get it right
  • Start looking at recruitment sites, newspapers, magazines, trade journals and putting out feelers among your contacts
  • Networking invariably pays dividends, especially if you are known to be an expert or up and coming high flyer in your field

Wrong Company – Wrong Job

If you have come to the realisation both are wrong, you really need to do something to rectify your situation.

Like many people you may have ‘fallen into your job’ without any real planning and have had a big shift in your value set.

What is holding you back?

If you are at odds with your value set you will never be happy or fulfilled in your job. In order to change, you must change.

You may know things need to change but have buried your head in the sand, hoping the problem will go away. It is all too easy to stay in your comfort zone getting your regular salary and not have to face the problem, especially if you are paid well and finance is important to you.

Is it fear?  Maybe fear of the unknown or fear of failure?

3. What are the consequences of not changing job or career?

  • If your values are out of tune with the company or sector things can only get worse, as values are what we hold dear
  • You become the ‘victim’, often resulting in extreme frustration and anger taking over, becoming damaging for yourself and those around you
  • Negativity can consume your life
  • You spend your time constantly wondering what if’ but never daring to come out of your comfort zone and take that crucial ‘leap of faith’
  • Settling for the easy compromise option, starting to ‘vegetate’ and conditioning yourself to a life of boredom, without ever having to think about the unthinkable alternatives!
  • Above all else – never realising your full potential!

4. Do you recognise yourself in one of these categories?

If so, why be unhappy and continue to do something that you don’t enjoy or that is no longer right for you? You are unlikely to achieve anything significant in your life unless you challenge yourself and take yourself out of your comfort zone!

5. What stage are you at?

You are likely to be at one of 3 stages:

a) You know exactly what you want to do and how to go about it

b) You know what you really want to do but don’t have the courage to change

c) You are looking for a complete change but have no idea how to achieve this

6. How should you move forward?

  • Take action and start the process now as doing nothing is not an option!
  • If you are at stage a – go for it and start making your changes now!  – Maybe consider other Accountancy jobs?
  • If you are at stage b or c – enlist the help of a Career Coach to help you unlock your potential and achieve the job or career you really want
  • Invest in yourself and your future to take control of your life and your career!

If you want to know more about developing your career visit our Career & Personal Development website

Before the CV- Establishing your true marketability!

When you either need to look for a new job or decide that the time is right, do you immediately dust off your CV, consider updating it, adding relevant new information, then fire it out to as many companies, organisations, agencies and job boards as possible. Sound familiar?

This is often the biggest mistake that many job seekers make, especially when faced with redundancy. Updating and re-writing your CV and blasting it out to ‘the universe’ is unlikely to get you on the interview ‘YES’ pile, unless you have first established and understood your true marketability as it is unlikely to be targeted and focused to sell you in the best light.

Skills are undeniably a vital ingredient for success in all job roles and for some the more specific or the more transferable the better. For some very specialist, technical and clinical jobs, having exactly the right skill set and proven ability to do the role could certainly be the determining factor.

Skills will always be important but they do not provide the full picture. It is a fact that most skills can be learnt or developed and many skills are portable so can be transferred into other jobs or careers. Conversely, it is hard to change people’s personality, nature and their outlook on life.

The old adage is that ‘a leopard can never change its spots’. This is true to a large extent. Only by working hard to develop and grow personally (as well as professionally) does this have a positive impact on who you are and how you approach life. ‘You are what you think and feel’.

Remember ‘you never get a second chance to create a first impression’. What you see is what you get and enthusiastic, positive people tend to radiate energy, which is infectious!

Marketable means that you are sought after and in demand. Your true marketability is the value you offer an employer in terms of your complete package i.e. range of skills, competencies, attributes, attitude, knowledge base, achievements, networks, reputation and personal values. This is an infinitely more powerful proposition than just focusing on your skills.

Enthusiasm, determination, passion, willingness to learn and a positive ‘can do’ attitude can leapfrog you over the competition, even when they have more experience and ‘better skills’, as these can add real value to the job and organisation.

Imagine the scenario; two CV’s landing on an employer or recruiter’s desk, one is purely skills focused and the other really brings you to life in a very positive and powerful way so your personality, work ethic, career objectives, achievements and energy leap off the page. Unless the skill level is the only pre-requisite who are you going to invite to interview?

Developing an in depth self awareness of who you are and what you have to offer is essential for effective self marketing and developing your career. This provides focus and clarity to ensure that you are applying for the right jobs, your applications are targeted and you sell yourself in the best light on your CV and in any networking or interview situations.

You can now work on identifying your unique selling point/s (USP/s).  For USP think what makes you different and or better than your competition?

Regardless of the level you are working at or aspiring to, the majority of people greatly undersell themselves. In such a competitive job market by establishing and really accentuating your true marketability and USP, you will stand out from the crowd!

At the final stage of interviews, the prime candidates usually have similar skill sets. What sets you apart from the competition is likely to be a combination of your personal attributes, attitude, mindset, track record and networks.

Resist the temptation to fire out your CV. Establishing and understanding your true marketability will help you sell yourself effectively, with confidence and set you up for a successful career.

If you want to know more about developing your career visit our career and personal development website

Portfolio Career – It’s your CHOICE!

  • Lots of ideas and options but unsure how to choose?
  • Do you love variety and differing challenges?

If so, a portfolio career could be for you!

What is a Portfolio Career?

Employment specialists have predicted for many years that work will become less structured and secure in the future and that we will face constant change in our working lives. This is definitely proving to be true and the portfolio career is now becoming an accepted alternative working lifestyle.

To be in control of your own career now means looking at alternative ways of working. To stay employable in the future you will need to adapt to new roles, acquire new skills and master new ways of building a career.

  • A portfolio career is one where you have an income from a number of sources
  • Perhaps a number of jobs
  • A job and a business
  • Any combination of activities and skills
  • A portfolio career may consist of different working arrangements at different times
  • Rather than working for one company you take on various projects and cultivate several clients
  • A successful Portfolio Career fits together bits of work in our life to form a balanced whole
  • It could typically include periods of employment through short term contracts e.g. project work, temporary or interim work, part-time work perhaps combined with self employment, working from home and even voluntary work
  • Basically anything and everything you want it to be to achieve your desired work-life balance and income requirements!

In order to pursue a Portfolio Career, you must be willing to risk personal change.

Some of the PROS and CONS of Having a Portfolio Career:

The PROS:

  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Change
  • Autonomy (being in control)
  • Excitement
  • Achievement
  • Development of expertise and many skills
  • Personal Freedom & Personal Growth
  • Pleasure doing what you like
  • Risk Taking
  • Variety
  • Fast Pace
  • Leisure Time
  • Money
  • Emotional Health
  • Meaning
  • Continual Learning

If these appeal then maybe a portfolio career is a possibility

The CONS:

  • Risk
  • Change
  • Lack of Stability
  • Overwhelming when deadlines overlap
  • Fast pace
  • Lack of leisure time
  • Lack of money (or financial stability)
  • Pressure
  • Other people’s opinions
  • Lack of company benefits
  • Lack of a regular routine

If these are considered negative, you may need to reframe some of your thinking before considering a Portfolio Career

Starting a small business doesn’t have to be an all or nothing enterprise. You can develop into a number of areas and stretch yourself and really maximise your skill set. Most businesses naturally evolve and having a portfolio career arguably makes this easier.

Benefits of a Portfolio Career

  • Having a range of items in your portfolio gives you security
  • If one of them goes there are always others to fall back on
  • Great if you want to achieve more money, more freedom, more variety and more flexibility in your life
  • Extends your contact network and gives you the opportunity to develop new skills
  • Each piece of work you do adds to your portfolio of skills and experience which you can use to attract more work
  • Above all else – CHOICE!!!!!!!

To become a portfolio person, it means not thinking in terms of having or not having a job. Instead, taking control of your life, making flexibility the key and developing a portfolio of skills and activities either for sale or for voluntary work.

How Do I get a Portfolio Career?

Firstly, identify skills and traits that you could sell to form a potential portfolio career that could work for you. Things to consider:

  1. What motivates you?
  2. Work you enjoy e.g. – driving, painting, communicating, making things:
  3. What career(s) would you like to try, if you knew that you wouldn’t have to do it forever or on a full-time basis?
  4. Any ideas that you have for a home-based or small business, but have not felt would support you full time?
  5. Your skills and talents/ what do you have that others might pay for?
  6. Your major accomplishments

Balancing your portfolio:

  • The balance of your portfolio is likely to change at different periods in your life
  • A portfolio career may consist of different working arrangements at different times
  • If your career strands fail to provide you with everything you need you may decide to broaden your range of activities
  • However, at certain times, one strand may become all consuming
  • Caution – don’t try to take on too many different/new career strands at the same time!!.

If you have had enough of the corporate world or public sector bureaucracy or generally being an employee then maybe this could be the right career move for you. The good news is that self employment or developing a new career does not have to be about doing just one thing!

Can you imagine what it would be like to be in control of your career and working lifestyle? You are just one step away from developing your portfolio career of CHOICE and how good would that feel??

Moving from Over 40 and Unemployed to Over 40 and Hired!

Redundancy – Evaluating Your Options

There has been much media attention lately regarding the ‘mature’ unemployed population both in the UK, USA and Western Europe.

The recent Panorama programme on the BBC showcased the stories of a number of over fifty unemployed professionals who were finding it tough to get back into employment.

We can all empathise with their situations and many people like them. However, it was painfully obvious why some of them were not making any progress finding their next job or career move. That said it is never easy, especially if you have never experienced redundancy or been unemployed.

The reality is that anything is possible. There is a definite process to achieving successful career transition, which will work for you as long as you believe it, navigate the right path and take positive action!

Top 30 tips for older professionals to win through redundancy

1.       The most important consideration is MINDSET – ‘You are what you think and feel’!

2.       You must ‘let go’ and look forward – turn the potential threat into an opportunity

3.       Learn from the past to help you move forward

4.       If you believe that you are washed up at 40 or 50 and won’t get another job then this is what is likely to happen unless you change your thinking

5.       You are never too old. If you are open to change, thinking differently, being opportunistic  and taking control of your career then anything is possible

6.       Your language is key and will speak volumes about your mindset – be aware of the power of what you say, how you say it and to whom

7.       Don’t bang on about ‘being redundant’ and  how badly your employer or the world is treating you

8.       Instead, work hard to project a positive image and tell people you’re ‘between jobs and looking for new opportunities’ and show initiative

9.       You must believe that people genuinely want to help you but you need to help them

10.   People will want to help but only if you are positive and upbeat, as most people have enough baggage of their own!

11.   Surround yourself with positive people to boost you up -investing in a career coach can make the difference in how quickly you move forward and act as a catalyst for change

12.   There is a definite process to achieve successful career transition and your next career move

13.   Learn to embrace our SMP Career Navigation Cycle for a greater chance of success

14.   Before you start firing off your CV, start by re-evaluating  what is important to you in your life and career;  values, motivators, passions, interests

15.   Establish your true marketability – not just your skills but attributes, attitude, knowledge base, networks and achievements

16.   Take time out for a break and to clear your head but be wary of taking a few months off as it is important to ‘get back on the horse’ as soon as possible and not to lose self discipline

17.   Treat your job search like a project , looking to achieve ‘small wins’ along the way

18.   As with any project, you need to review what is working and what isn’t and be open to change and cease any activities that are not helping you move towards your end goal

19.   ‘If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you’ve always got’

20.   Think outside of the box – circumnavigate the recruitment process by looking  to create opportunities

21.   If 80% of jobs are never advertised in the public domain then learn to spend 80% of your time looking to tap into the ‘hidden job market’  rather than throwing yourself in with all the competition chasing advertised vacancies

22.   Develop your networks and make them work for you both online and offline

23.   Social media / networks have changed the face of how we live and job search – ‘you have to be in it to win it’!

24.   Consider setting up a businesses of your own utilising all your career and life skills, tapping into your passions and interests

25.   Plug the learning gaps and re-skill where necessary to make you more marketable

26.   Reframe your thinking – maybe it is time to consider ‘generating income’ rather than ‘having a job’

27.   Developing a ‘Portfolio Career’ where you earn income from a variety of different activities  using a range of skills is often a great way to achieve a fulfilling life style

28.   If you are thinking about doing something new but want to try it out first before you decide, volunteering  or work shadowing are great ways to dip a toe in the water to see if it’s right for you

29.   Develop yourself, build your confidence and self belief

30.   Take positive action to make your goal come true!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Check out information on our forthcoming Career Transition Masterclass. This may help to transform your life and career!

Guide to Self Marketing – Matching Your Mission with Your Vision

When managing your career, be mindful that the biggest mistake many people make is letting others make decisions for them.

It may be that a recruitment agency tries to pigeon hole you into a ‘box’ but you don’t feel this represents either your true skill set or desired job role. This can often happen, as it makes their job much easier but could result in you not selling or marketing yourself in the way you desire.

Equally it may be colleagues, family or friends who have a perceived view of what you have to offer the market place, which may have been true in the past but not necessarily in tune with your new mindset and the direction you wish to be moving towards, especially if you are looking to change career.

It is definitely beneficial to seek help from a Career Coach to steer you in the right direction, especially as most of us find it difficult to ‘blow our own trumpet’ and sell ourselves in the best light. However, make sure that you don’t put your future in someone else’s hands by abdicating responsibility for your own decisions, as it is your career and future at stake!

A Four-Step Process

A good approach for managing your career is to consider yourself as MD of your own company, in charge of your future success, growth and survival.

You are also the marketing director, responsible for managing your job search campaign, creatively packaging and creating a need for the company’s star product – you!

Taking this approach and following the marketing guidelines will provide you with the necessary focus to help you take control of your career and become the ‘architect of your own future’. Like him or loathe him, David Beckham is the master of this.

1. Define your product (i.e. know yourself)

  • To create a desirable package for your product, you must determine why it’s unique
  • What are your special skills and talents?
  • What are you selling to potential employers?
  • What makes you different or better than other products (candidates)?
  • Is your product appropriately priced or do you need to make improvements (e.g. acquire more skills)?

With the market being fiercely competitive, creativity is the order of the day. How you package yourself, your skills, abilities and talents will ultimately determine the effectiveness of your ‘campaign’, whether in or out of work.

  • Be proactive and understand the benefit of marketing yourself on a regular basis
  • Don’t just market yourself when it becomes necessity, because you are facing redundancy or unemployed
  • Assessing and clearly defining your skills and attributes is not an easy task and you may well need help, as often we cannot see the ‘wood for the trees’
  • You definitely cannot sell yourself effectively if you are unclear about your marketability
  • Are your skills right for the type of job or career you are seeking?
  • Evaluate and establish any obvious gaps, to look at what training or development will be required to become competitive
  • Personal development programmes can be of great benefit to boost your confidence, focus and approach to selling yourself

2. Determine your market

  • Who are your target customers now and in the future and why would they buy your product (i.e. yourself)?
  • Without a clear understanding of your audience, you cannot ‘package yourself’ or create an effective marketing plan
  • If you are employed, your target market can be internal, external or both
  • You don’t have to leave a current employer to advance in your career
  • Marketing yourself internally is easier than external networking, which often means making “cold” calls to people you’ve never met

3. Make a plan (your campaign strategy)

  • Good marketers create and follow a plan that includes a description of their target audience and how best to reach it
  • Create your own marketing plan and then follow through on the details
  • All your efforts and activities should support your goal, whether it’s to become better known in your present industry or a different field
  • A key consideration, as with any plan, is to review and change course where necessary
  • Failure to do this is likely to end up with you veering way of course!

Most professionals know the basics of job hunting but may not understand how to continuously market themselves as a product.

Proactive marketing helps you to become known and visible to ‘buyers’. It requires making connections, maintaining a network of people and persistence. This way you are likely to be noticed when career opportunities arise.

When putting your plan into action, be positive about discussing your career goals. If contacts don’t know what you need or want, they can’t help. Experience shows that most people genuinely like to help.

4. Use effective marketing channels

The most effective form of self marketing is ‘networking’, although the very name puts fear and panic into many job seekers!

Why is this?

In the UK, our ‘British reserve’ automatically puts up barriers and our ‘limiting beliefs’ get in the way i.e. all the negativity and reasons why not to and why it won’t work! In the US it is just a way of life so is second nature.

5. The importance of Social Media

Facebook, LinkedIn (Professional/ Business version of Facebook), Plaxo, blogs and the like have revolutionised the way we connect with people.

Building and maintaining your networks would have previously taken weeks or months to really get going now the power of social media can help you achieve this in only days. Remember to continue to optimise and maintain your networks.

6. Finding effective help and support

  • 1:1 Career Coaching and Career transition workshops that are aimed at helping you overcome your limiting beliefs and building your confidence are a great source of help to ensure networking becomes a natural and effective part of your everyday self marketing strategy
  • Joining professional, industry, community and specific networking groups should all form part of your strategy
  • When you really start to analyse your network of contacts, it is reassuring that you actually know many people from all walks of life; family and friends, existing and ex work colleagues, business acquaintances, acquaintances through sport and leisure activities, parents from your children’s school, community activities and so on.
  • All these people can be helpful to unlocking your future
  • It is invariably the most surprising people who ultimately do unlock your future and these can often be the friends and contacts of the people you already know!

If you are seriously considering a career change but finding it difficult to break into your chosen market, consider offering your services for a work placement either on a voluntary or ideally paid basis as this can be a useful strategy.

You immediately have something live on your CV and become instantly more marketable!

By taking these approaches and following your heart and talking passionately to people about your career mission and continually reviewing your progress towards your goal, you will become the architect of your own future and match your mission with your vision!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Job Search

How would you like to cut to the chase of the Job search process?

Our experience shows that there are a lot of misconceptions about job search; not least that it is a very simple activity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Job search in today’s world of technology, degrees and fierce competition has become an art form and almost a job in its own right!

Here are our top 10 myths, in no particular order except the first!

Myth 1 – You only need to look on the internet as it is the best way to find a job

Myth 2 – You only need to register with Recruitment Agencies to get work

Myth 3 – You will always hear back from job applications, especially if they want to know more information

Myth 4 – The majority of jobs are always advertised

Myth 5 – You don’t have many contacts, so networking won’t work

Myth 6 – There are plenty of jobs so it’s easy to find the job you want

Myth 7 – You cannot move between from the Public sector to the Private or Charity sectors (or v.v) without the sector experience

Myth 8 – Speculative applications do not work

Myth 9 – You are too old if you are over 40

Myth 10 – You are worthless without a degree

There are always exceptions to the rule, however research and experience supports these misconceptions time and time again. Have you spent hours, days, weeks, looking and applying for jobs on the internet only for your applications to disappear into the proverbial ‘black hole’?  Would you believe that around only 20% of Management opportunities are ever advertised? Conversely, are you aware that anything between 65-85% (depending on which research you believe) of all job opportunities are never advertised?

SMP Solutions top 5 tips for successful job search:

1) Treat your job search as a project and develop a plan, taking account of the 4 main job search methodologies:
• Applying to newspaper, trade journal or online advertisements
• Utilising Recruitment Agencies, Executive Search agencies and ‘Head Hunters’
• Direct speculative approach (must be personalised, targeted and professional)
• Personal networking (including online / social networking e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook)

2) Awareness of you as a product (who you are and what you have to offer!)

3) Finding out about the hidden job market and how to access it

4) Learning the art of networking, developing contacts and making your existing contacts work for you both online and offline

5) Discipline and persistence. Don’t give up; persistence pays but only if you are on the right track. No point in keep firing blanks. You may need our help to review and help steer you in the right direction

Other key secrets to successful job search:

• Not the ‘scattergun’ approach that many people adopt
• It is an art and like most things in life involves planning and focus
• One of the most effective routes to success is learning how to crack the ‘hidden job market’

What is the hidden Job Market?
It is all those jobs that you never get to see or hear about, unless you are in the know!
Many of us will have got jobs as a result of being known already, through friends, family, ex work colleagues, contacts of contacts and so on. This is so much easier, quicker and more powerful with the massive growth of social media/networking and professional sites such as LinkedIn. Be found and find other like minded people!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Graduate Career Transition Part 2

Looking to move from academia into the workplace but unsure how to move forward?

You have now hopefully addressed the questions in part 1 of this guide. If not it is best that you refer to this first, as it will save you time and get you focussed!
Depending on the type of job and organisation you have decided you would like to work for will to a large extent shape your thinking

SMP top 10 tips to make a successful transition into employment:

1/ Develop a plan as what gets measured gets done!
2/ Clearly define your goals, set realistic timescales to achieve them and review your plan on a regular basis
3/ Consider what help you will need and how you will access this
4/ Research, research, research. Use your skills from university life to establish as much as possible about specific jobs of interest, the organisation, the culture, the opportunities, the recruitment process, their competitors, vision and anything else that can put you ahead of the pack
5/ Match yourself to the job and organisation with your skills, attributes and attitude.
6/ If you know people who work there yourself, or know people who know other people who work there, ask if they can get you an introduction or some initial work experience. Once you have a foot in the door it is so much easier to make an impact, so that the employer is keen to offer you a full time role
7/ Seek help and advice to get you the best possible CV, as this could make the difference between making the yes pile for an interview!
8/ Although it may go against the grain, be prepared to start ‘at the bottom’ and work your way up, especially if the employer only recruits via graduate schemes or internships.
9/ Once inside an organisation, be observant, network with as many people as possible and establish what type of roles that you would like to aspire to and make it obvious that you are ambitious and prepared to learn and graft to get there!
10/ Ensure you have a back up contingency plan in case ‘plan A’ doesn’t work and remember that persistence pays!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website