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Transitioning from Academia into Employment

Transitioning from academia into employment for graduates

Are you one of the millions of young people looking to transition from academia into employment but unsure how to move forward? Have you got the ‘graduation blues’?

If this is your first foray into the world of work, after enjoying university life, for most 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 several key questions that you must first ask yourself.

Be totally honest, otherwise you are likely to make key 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 just 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. How aware are you 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 that really sells 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 ideally want to work for?
  10. How far are you prepared to travel to work?

Before you can start down the road of making this key transition in your life, from academia into employment, you must first address these (and many more) key questions. Your answers will provide many clues as to what action you need to take to help you move forward.

10 top tips to make a successful transition from academia into employment

  1. Manage your transition like any project and 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, what is working, what isn’t, what additional help you will need and how you will access this
  3. Even if you can’t secure a full-time job, get part-time work, temporary work and as much work experience as possible, so you can show your tenacity and positive attitude to a potential employer
  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 vision, the opportunities, the recruitment process, their competition and anything else that can put you ahead of the pack
  5. Learn how to sell and market yourself effectively by matching yourself to the job and organisation with your skills, attributes and attitude both in any job applications and interviews.
  6. If you know people who work where you would like to work 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. This way you have a great opportunity to influence whether the employer offers you a full-time job
  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. There are many types of interviews nowadays. How well you plan, prepare and practice and how confident you come across will make the difference. Research how to win at video interviews, Skype interviews, telephone interviews, face to face formal interviews, group interviews and informal ‘coffee shop’ type interviews
  10. Ensure you have a backup plan in case ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work but remember persistence pays, providing you channel your energy in the right way!

For more information, Lin Preston is a leading Education & Career Coach with our specialist consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd, having helped hundreds of young people (and take away the stress from their parents!) to transition from academia into employment and make key education and career choices to get their careers off to the best possible start.

Ten top reasons why people want to change jobs

Ten top reasons why people want to change jobs

There are many reasons why people want to quit their jobs. Here is a list of very common ones:

  1. I want / need more money or a better package
  2. I’m bored and I’d like a new challenge
  3. There is no career progression
  4. It’s too stressful
  5. I just hate it
  6. I’m having to work too many hours
  7. I’m not learning any new skills
  8. I don’t feel supported by my boss
  9. I want to be my own boss
  10. I want to change industry / career

Now ten top reasons why people hold off leaving their jobs

  1. I really like my current team or company
  2. I’m not confident enough to apply for other jobs
  3. Applying for new jobs is too time consuming
  4. I’m worried I don’t have enough experience
  5. I don’t want to leave my current team in the lurch
  6. I’m scared of interviews
  7. I’m worried I won’t get the flexible working hours / flexibility I need at a new job
  8. I’m worried about working with a new team or different technology
  9. Updating my CV/resume is too daunting
  10. I’m just procrastinating!

What other reasons can you think of why people want to quit their jobs? Also why they resist from doing so?

What reasons do you want to change your job or career and maybe we can help you achieve your desired career change or transition?

Outplacement or Career Transition?

Supporting Organisational Change with ‘Outplacement’

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

What’s in a name?

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

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

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

But what if it really does make a difference?

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

Definitions of Outplacement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The result…..

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

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

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

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

Are you in the right job?

Are you in the right job?

Most people fall into their careers purely by accident.  Suddenly they get to a stage in their lives when they think “how did I get here? And “how did I end up doing this?”  More often than not, it isn’t what they really wanted to do in the first place and it seems almost impossible to think about doing something else now.  So they continue along the path they were on at the risk of becoming more and more dissatisfied with their own career choice. Could this be you?

What is important to remember, is YOU choose your career direction – it is not made for you it is created by you. Everything you have done until this very moment, whether it has been a conscious or unconscious decision, has been your decision. The biggest and bravest decision to make now is whether to continue on this path or take a different direction.

How to find out if you are in the right job

Ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

  1. If all jobs paid the same, what job would I do?
  2. If I knew I couldn’t fail, what job would I do?
  3. If I was given a magic wand and could create the job of my dreams, what would it be?

What do your answers say to you?

If you are doing a job that really interests, motivates and inspires you, not only will you enjoy it and feel happier than you ever have, but you will ultimately become a success!  Studies show that success does not necessarily translate in to financial reward (thought it’s always nice!) but is about doing something you enjoy, that gives you a sense of satisfaction and personal reward.

If your answers are indicating you are not doing something you want to do and you would like to do something different, well, why not start exploring what that might look like and think about how you can achieve it? So, are you in the right job?

Career Coaching is about helping people to explore their transferable skills and identify what motivates them.  It’s about exploring all the options and eliminating many of the barriers preventing them from realizing their career potential.

Here’s another little exercise you can try for yourself. Draw a line on a piece of paper with your date of birth at the start and your estimated year of death (without getting morbid!) at the end. You have now created your ‘personal life line’.

Now mark an “X” to show where you are now.  How far along the line is the “X”? Consider, what you have achieved until now and think about how much time has passed? What jobs have you done?  What did you enjoy and what were your successes?

Next, look at what remains on the right of the “X”.  Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve?  How much time do you have to achieve that?  If your earlier answers to the 3 questions indicated you’re not doing a job that really makes you happy, then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about what you would like to do and how you might be able to achieve it.

Career Coaching is not an overnight fix, and magic wands are in short supply.  However, if you really want to change, so you are in the right job – you can.  You are in control of your own career and ultimately you can always change direction.

“If you do not change the direction in which you are going, you will end up where you are headed” – Confucius

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