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!

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 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

What to do When Facing Redundancy

What to do when redundancy strikes

What should you do if you are faced with redundancy? – Top Ten tips

Are you one of the thousands of job ‘victims’ affected by the downturn in the economy or Public Sector cuts?

Not a pleasant situation to suddenly be faced with, unless you have been quietly plotting your escape route and can now walk away with some spare cash, or you always knew that the time is right to get out.What to do when redundancy strikes

Having been hit with the news of pending redundancy, it is important to take the right steps to protect your own interests and get you moving forward as quickly as possible:

1/ Know your rights – This is an important start point. If you work for a large organisation, the HR department will almost certainly have followed proper policy and protocol and checked out all their legal requirements as an employer. If you have a union then they will be involved in the process to ensure that employees best interests are looked after.

However, as with most things in life, or if you work for a smaller company without an HR department, this is not always the case. Sometimes redundancy programmes are rushed through and things might not always be done exactly as they should and corners may be cut, especially if there is great pressure to reduce headcount and payroll cost.

You need to know if you are being fairly treated, if your reason for redundancy is valid, whether there is scope for negotiation on any redundancy payment, if you have been given the proper period of consultation and a host of other issues.

2/ Know where to get help – If you do not have an HR department or you are for whatever reason uncomfortable discussing your situation with them, find some external help to advise on your situation (there is plenty of free help around) so no need to pay for anything at this stage. If you have a union then this is the time they can be of great help. The site below is specifically targeted to people in your situation. 

http://www.redundancyhelp.co.uk/index.htm

3/ Negotiate the best deal – Depending on your standing within the organisation, length of service and and reason for redundancy, there could be scope for negotiation, especially if you may be required to stay on to oversee important handovers or your job is such that it is of benefit for you to remain in situ as long as possible. This could open up the possibility for a retention bonus as you are helping the company whilst making it difficult for you to job search. Even if you negotiate an extra week or two pay this will all help towards your survival contingency and pay some bills.

4/ Find out what career support is available from your employer – Although there is no formal obligation from employers to support staff facing redundancy with career help, many organisations feel that they have a moral obligation to at least help those being released to have a better chance of getting a new job quickly or to be able to review their career options and this is commonly known as Outplacement or Career Management.

Every organisation takes a different approach. However, if nothing is offered it is always worth asking your HR Manager or Trade Union (if you have one) if a programme can be provided.

If there are a small amount of redundancies, it can pay you to agree a budget with your employer and source your own outplacement programme. This way you have a much better chance of having a programme customised to your needs, rather than having a programme the organisation have negotiated. If they are not happy to do this, then take any help that is on offer, as it could really help to fastrack you to your next job plus you never know when you might be in the same situation again.

5/ Career support options if your employer is unable to provide a programme – You have to accept that in a climate of economic downturn and cost cutting, your employer may not have the funds to pay for an Outplacement programme or be willing to pay for such support.

If you have never experienced redundancy before and are ‘all at sea’, you are looking at the opportunity for a possible career change or you wish to fast-track to another maybe even better job, then it will pay you to invest in some professional help to move you forward with your career and help you market yourself more effectively.You will get a much quicker return on your investments a good Career Coach will keep you focused, motivated and on track rather  than going it alone and more than likely losing your motivation on the way.

Expert career development consultancies offer a range of services to suit the needs of each individual from writing a CV to get you on the interview yes pile, honing your interview skills to win at interviews to exploring career change options and specific career development programmes for professionals and executives.

6/  Having the right Mindset – Turn the Threat into an Opportunity. Winning through redundancy is much about positive mindset e.g. it’s not about you personally but about the economic climate e.g. restructuring or whatever else has created the situation that is requiring outsourcing, cost cutting etc. Things usually happen for a reason so take advantage of the situation to review your life and career and walk away with some money to maybe fund a new venture, something that you maybe have always wanted to do but never had the courage or it has never been the right time.

7/ You are allowed to be upset (for a while!) – Redundancy effects people in many different ways. If the redundancy has come as a shock or you feeel bitter about what has happened or frightened about the future then it is only natural to be upset and concerned. Try to get this off your chest, change your mindset and let go and move forward as quickly as possible and learn from the past to help your future. If you are deeply truamatised then you may need special counselling support which your employer may provide.

8/ Get your finances into shape and the right support network – Surround yourself with positive people who will boost you up and who have ideally experienced redundancy and proven that it can be a blessing in disguise plus people that you know, value and tust. This is also where professional career development support and career coaching can be greatly beneficial.  It will also pay you to get professional help to review your pension if your employer has not provided this service.

Get your finances into shape and once you know how much you will walk away with do some serious financial planning to work out how much you need to earn moving forward and how long your redundancy and any savings will last and if you are fortunate to have a good package, how best to invest your money. For many people this exercise can open up a whole new world of thinking, especially if you find that you don’t need to earn as much as you thought to survive or your redundancy money can bring about new financial freedom!

9/ Build your networks – With anything up to 90% of jobs never openly advertised, for many job seekers building and managing your networks can be the most effective methodology to finding a new opportunity.  The impact and power of social media has completely changed the face of recuitment and job searching so building an online presence through Facebook and especially LinkedIn for professionals and executives is as important as meeting contacts face to face and has dramatically reduced the time it takes to build and maintain your networks.

10/ Live your dream! – You may never get a better opportunity than now to re-evaluate your life and career and do what you’ve always wanted to! Research consistently shows that one in two people are in the wrong job and two out of three are unfulfilled.  It is never too late to change and now is the time for you to find the right job or career for you, maybe even start up your own business doing something you love that will make you happy or take that retirement you have been yearning for!

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

Guide to Graduate Career Transition part 1

Got the graduation blues?

Looking to move from academia into employment but unsure how to move forward?

If this is your first foray into the world of work, after enjoying university life, for the majority of people it is a scary situation. The dawn of reality!

Regardless of whether you have any previous work experience, you have now reached one of the first milestones in your life and In order to make a successful transition into employment, there are a number of key questions that you must first ask yourself.

Be totally honest, otherwise you are likely to make mistakes before you have even really started on your journey!

1/ How important is your degree to you in a future role or is it something that you can utilise to give you a better chance of employment against the competition?

2/ Do you have any real idea of what job you would ideally like to do?

3/ Are you looking for a job (possibly any job to get you started) or a career?

4/ Have you researched the entry criteria?

5/ Are you aware of your marketability and what you have to offer?

6/ Do you know any contacts who might be able to network you in?

7/ Do you have an up to date CV and does it reflect you as a person, to sell you in the best light?

8/ Have you thought about what is important to you in your job?

9/ What type of organisation do you want to work for?

10/ How far are you prepared to travel?

Before you can start down the road of making this key transition in your life, you must first address these (and many more) key questions.

See how you do then get ready for some hard work to ensure you get what you want.

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

Guide to Making Redundancy Work for You

For many people redundancy is highly traumatic and rates with bereavement, divorce, marriage and moving house as one of the most stressful situations you may ever have to face in life.

If you have been in a job for a long time, it will inevitably have become an integral part of your life. To have this taken away from you can seem like your own personal loss or bereavement.

In the current competitive global market, which can nowadays be affected by so many previously unthinkable influences, company fortunes can change almost overnight, making for an extremely volatile employment market.

Sometimes radical decisions must be made, which can leave you ‘out in the cold’, through absolutely no fault of your own.

However, as with most things in life, there are two ways at looking at your situation:

1/ You are a ‘victim’ and a failure

2/ You view this as an excellent opportunity to completely re-evaluate your career and what is important to you in your job and life

You may well find it extremely difficult to be of a positive mindset and take an optimistic view, especially when redundancy has suddenly been thrust on you!

However, even when you have months of warning and think you have come to terms with your situation, it is often difficult to see past the negative emotions and feeling ‘bitter and twisted’ and as a result waste all this opportunity to be proactively developing your career.

If you have never experienced redundancy or it is something that you previously didn’t manage particularly well, it is important for you to understand how redundancy may affect you and what you can do to turn this negative situation into a positive outcome for you.

There are five main impacts of redundancy, which can be dramatically exaggerated if the redundancy is very sudden or totally unexpected:

  • Shock, denial and anger – why me?
  • Fear of the unknown – will I get another job, can I survive financially?
  • Loss of Confidence/self esteem – do I have any value?
  • Loss of control – you feel this has been taken away as ‘the rug has been pulled from underneath you’
  • Loss of structure – to your daily life or thoughts about how will you cope without routine?

What can you do to help kick start your career?

SMP Solutions top tips for making redundancy work for you:

  • Learn to be proactive and to take control of your career to be the ‘architect of your own future’
  • The biggest mistake many people make is to procrastinate (especially if they are likely to get a good pay off!) and wait to just before or even after they leave before they start even thinking about their next step
  • Worse still, don’t spring into life when you become desperate
  • Getting a job can become almost a full time activity so a good tip is to treat your job search like a project in itself with a start and end date, review points along the way and contingencies
  • Consider what resources may be required to ensure your success
  • If you have access to a company outplacement programme then use it at the earliest possible opportunity
  • If not, don’t feel too proud to get help from a Career Coach or Career Development specialist, it could put you ahead of the game and repay you handsomely!
  • It may not seem like it at the time but this is your great opportunity to take stock and review your career to establish what is really important to you and plan your next step
  • Review your finances – take a good long hard look at your outgoings and incomings, taking account of your partner’s earnings if you have one plus ‘discretionary’ expenditure and everything that you value e.g.  holidays, meals out, sport and leisure
  • This is an incredibly powerful exercise, as you can clearly establish what you need to earn as against what you were previously earning or desire to earn
  • Understanding your financial situation can totally empower you to thinking about your career in a completely different light, especially if you establish that you do not need to earn as much as you had anticipated!
  • Avoid taking the first job offer that comes along just because you feel flattered, relieved or because you feel you have got one up on your colleagues, as you could be jumping from the ‘frying pan into the fire’
  • If you plan your campaign right, you will get offers of jobs that you really want or you may even decide to set up your own business
  • Actively network and use more than one approach for your job search
  • Enlist any other support you can get, including friends, family and acquaintances who have won through redundancy and share knowledge and experiences
  • Surround yourself with positive people as it is all too easy to get in with the whinging negative crowd who will quickly drag you down even further
  • Above all else you must keep a positive mental attitude
  • There is always something else on the horizon that may prove your redundancy to be a blessing in disguise!

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

Guide to Work Survival Skills

These days it is not enough to just think about the skills that you need to compete and get you ahead in the workplace, if you are really forward thinking, you will also think about the skills to survive the workplace.

This may sound negative but with businesses going through constant change, retsructiring, downsizing, takeovers and mergers, it pays to understand the survival game, as it is ‘a jungle out there’!

It is generally agreed that there are 10 essentials of a survival kit:

A map of the area you will be in, a compass, a flashlight, sunglasses, extra food and water, extra clothing, waterproof matches, fire starters, a pocket knife and a first aid kit. All things being equal, this kit should allow you to survive in many settings.

Consider your workplace survival in the same light. Knowing and understanding your environment and what pitfalls you’re likely to encounter puts you ahead of the game. Learning by experience is a big part of the job, and it is inventibleby the way most people find out.

To help you along the way, here are a few pointers to help you avoid avoid the snakes and losing your way in the jungle, to survive in the workplace!

Commercial awareness – for this read company politics!

Appreciation of workplace culture and being effective in the organisational environment. This knowledge is often gained through ‘water cooler talk’!

Willingness to learn and continue learning – You are on a short fuse if you show no interest in learning new skills in a changing environment

Managing time / Planning & prioritising workload – with flatter structures, most workloads are getting greater so how well you can ‘juggle lots of balls’ is key

Working to deadlines / coping with stress – says it all!

Accepting responsibility – passing the buck and abdicating doesn’t wash

Meeting goals – If you have set goals then it’s important to achieve

Implementing decisions – If you have made decisions or they have been made for you, then put them into action!

Attending to details – Procrastination and sloppy work doesn’t cut

Demonstrating punctuality, reliability & commitment

Computer skills – you don’t need to be a wizard but need to know enough to be effective in your job

Ability to work as part of a team/s or under own initiative and re-adjust your role – being able to work both as part of a team or autonomously definitely helps

Flexibility/adaptability to respond to, pre-empt and lead change

Finally, demonstrating these 6 ‘self’s’

shouting about your successes on your behalf, (unless you are very fortunate) you have to raise your success profile yourself, which is something most people struggle with but could keep you in a job!

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