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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.

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

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 developing a good CV

Firstly some key considerations ……………

Q/ What is the purpose of a CV?

This seems like a simple and obvious question but amazing how many people of all levels and at all stages of their careers fail to grasp this!

A/ To get you to an interview. Forget anything else, as this is your primary objective

Q/ How long has your CV got to create the right impact with a recruiter or potential employer to get on the yes pile?

A/ A trained eye will take around 20 seconds to scan your CV. You therefore need to create an immediate impact and show initiative; otherwise they might not read past the first half page!

Key tips for ‘Killer CV’s’

1) Focus with the end in mind to get you on the ‘yes’ pile for the interview i.e. try to see things through the eyes of the reader/’buyer’. Make it easy and interesting for them to read your CV

2) Presentation is key. The aim is 2 pages of quality information. Use the space wisely with plenty of white space for ease of reading and bullet points to keep it short and specific, avoiding cluttered text

3) Start with a profile and bring your CV to life by bringing out your personality, work ethic and career objective, as (apart from your covering letter or email) this is your one chance to really sell yourself and create a positive impression

4) Write the CV in the 3rd person (not I) e.g. self motivated rather than I am self motivated

5) Focus on what you have achieved and contributed rather than what you have done. This is what employers want and shows initiative

6) Think carefully about your specific career achievements. Highlight achievements that you have gained recognition for, also aspects of importance to you that may have gone unnoticed

7) Flesh out your key skills, attributes and experience; relate these to your job roles or as a separate heading to stand out

8) If you have had a long career, concentrate on the last 10-15 years. Most employers aren’t too bothered about what happened before this

9) Highlight relevant work related training, qualifications and memberships of professional bodies

10) Highlight anything else that will put you in good light or shows that you have developed or demonstrated skills outside of the workplace e.g. voluntary work, outside interests and projects

11) It is not essential to highlight interests, however it is always useful to show that you have a life outside of work and it maybe that one of your interest could be a talking point at the interview especially if unusual or beneficial e.g. you like to keep fit

To find out more about CV’s and job search strategies visit our Career & Personal Development website