Posts

It costs more to get the wrong solution

Cost of not getting the right solution

I had an interesting chat about the cost of services at business networking event. My contact was keen to share how he had met someone who offered him ‘a great deal on some social media marketing‘.  I responded by saying that the cost sounded good but also asking him what the service included and how it benefited his company marketing strategy and business goals?

The silence was deafening, followed by ‘what do you mean by strategy‘!  I was lost for words but quickly realised the reality of the situation i.e. he was totally blinded by ‘the deal‘ and hadn’t even established what he was getting for his money and whether this service was actually what he really needed for his business.

Why Cost Shouldn’t Be The First Question

This bizarre conversation got me thinking about similar situations, not just for business owners like me and him but when potential customers or clients are looking for a suitable company or provider and look to buy from you. How often is the first question ‘how much will it cost?’  Many times, I’m sure you will agree!

By solely focusing on cost often means looking for a quick fix to your problem e.g. we have a problem or need, so what is the cheapest and quickest way to fix it. This might work fine when you are looking for the supermarket who offers your typical weekly shop and you can compare like with like to get the best overall value for your money.

However, more often than not, when comparing  service providers, you are not comparing ‘apples with apples’. If you, as we do, provide a very flexible, bespoke offering, then how much your service costs will depend on a number of factors.   A good example…if my company is approached regarding providing Career Transition (outplacement) to support a programme of re-organisation and redundancies or Coaching services to improve individual or team performance, there are usually many flexible options to solve their problem and provide the best solution. Of course, cost will be a key consideration for most companies, organisations or individuals but just focusing on cost won’t necessarily provide the best solution, will it?

We like to work collaboratively with our clients, so feel it is important to develop the relationship first, by understanding your key requirements, before we start talking money.  There are a number of key questions to consider e.g.

  • What are you looking to achieve / key objectives/outcomes for your project?
  • How many people are involved?
  • Timescales to start and complete the project?
  • Finally …..How much budget do you have for the project?

It Ain’t What You Do, it’s the Way That You do it!

Why ask all these questions first? Because, the answers will determine whether the personal calling or emailing has really thought through how best they want the project or problem resolved, how much say they have in choosing the right provider or understands what they can achieve for their budget. Such questions also open up more meaningful discussions, rather than just focusing on cost, which is no different to my opening example!

Whether you are a company, organisation or individual client, what you get for your money, how and when the service is delivered and how this meets your desired objectives and outcome is surely of the utmost importance, is it not? If you need some building work done on your home, it is likely you will get a few different quotes. However…

As the song goes: “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it” .

So, when making key decisions to determine the right company or provider to deliver the service you require, I’m sure you will want to know the answers to some or all of these questions first, wouldn’t you?

  • What is their pedigree?
  • Do they come recommended?
  • What is their approach?
  • How will they help take away any ‘pain’ or pressure from you?
  • Do they have the right expertise for your project?
  • Do they work collaboratively with you to provide you with the best solution/s for your money to achieve your objective/ outcome/s ?
  • How confident are you about the provider delivering your project in the way you want and when you want?

How much does it cost to get it wrong?  

The cost of not achieving your key objectives or outcomes or receiving bad PR by choosing the wrong company or provider will ultimately cost you much more than spending more time and effort and maybe investing some additional budget to get the outcome/s you want. This is no different to choosing your builder purely on cost and finding you have to get them back to make good the job or worse still, having to find another builder to sort out their mess!

Steve Preston is MD of independent Career & People Development Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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 our MD Steve Preston’s internationally acclaimed book Winning Through Redundancy – 6 steps to navigate your way to a brighter future. This may help to transform your career and life!