Thursday, 12 December 2013

It’s the time of year to review your career!

As Christmas approaches, I know many of you are thinking:

‘I just need to make it to Christmas and then I will decide what to do about my career.’

Yes, it’s getting to that time of year when many people take time to review their careers and decide what to do next.  They may be unhappy in their current job, wanting to pursue a career change or tempted to apply for a promotion. Whatever your circumstances, Christmas can be a good time to take a step back and think about what you really want from your career.

Over the Christmas break take some time to let your imagination run wild. 

What would you love to be doing?  What are you most passionate about?

How about using your imagination to picture yourself in 5 years’ time.  Imagine that you are enjoying your career and love getting up in the morning (yes, this is possible!).  Imagine your typical day.  What are you doing?  What are you feeling?  What are you saying? Once you have taken yourself through the whole day, write it down. 

Be creative and don’t hold back. You may think your ideas seem impossible now but have a think about what is really stopping you from pursuing your dream.  Are the obstacles real?  Which ones can be overcome?  Perhaps start narrowing your ideas down until you have created some manageable steps. 

Enjoy making some plans for the future!

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Why you should have a LinkedIn account

LinkedIn is a powerful social networking tool which will expand your network and enable you to stay ahead in your career.

I am always surprised when someone tells me they don’t have a LinkedIn account because they can’t see the point.  There are lots of reasons why you should be on LinkedIn and here are just five of them.
 
1.     Employers and recruitment agencies are now using LinkedIn as a headhunting tool.  It is an easy way for them to find out about you and make contact with you.   Even if you are not actively seeking a job, you may be approached and may be offered an even better job with more money.  If you are not on LinkedIn, you are closing the door to these opportunities. 

2.     Many employers now automatically download a candidate’s LinkedIn profile when they apply for a job.  Your LinkedIn profile gives you another opportunity to tell them what you can do and what you have achieved. 

3.     Group discussions on LinkedIn can enhance your knowledge on topics you are interested in and create job opportunities. 

4.     You can build a large network of contacts.  Imagine you are made redundant next year.  Who would you turn to for help?  Is your current network big enough?  LinkedIn is a hassle free way of networking and can connect you with past colleagues, friends and acquaintances. 

5.     LinkedIn is an online CV which must be kept up to date in order for you to get the most out of the social networking tool. This means that when you are actively looking for a job you will always have an up to date CV to hand. 

Without LinkedIn in your life, you are missing out on a whole world of opportunity to connect with people with similar interests. Start building your LinkedIn profile now and use my blog on writing a great LinkedIn profile to assist.

This article may also be of interest to you: Five LinkedIn Strategies You Haven’t Thought Of Before)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Changing career without starting all over again

I recently read an article in the Financial Times which stated that recent research findings show that 60% of employees would choose a different career if they could start again. 

Once again we are being told that a large proportion of people are unhappy in their job.  It is becoming quite a common piece of news.  However, in this case it wasn’t so much the figure that caught my eye, it was the wording used.

‘……would choose a different career if they could start again.’

What is all this about starting again?  When I pursued a career change, did I really start again?  Did I discount the years of training and practising as a solicitor?  What about my time working for Macmillan Cancer Support, was this also to be discounted?  Did my career then restart?

It all sounds quite dramatic and it doesn’t need to be.  Instead of considering a career change as starting again, think of it as starting the next chapter of your career.  Your career will evolve through gaining different skills and experiences and you can choose to make changes based on this to move you forward. 

If you are ready to take the next step in your career and pursue a career change, instead of considering this process as starting again, consider the process as building on the skills and interests you already have and start investigating how you can use these elsewhere.   Perhaps start putting together your ideal job role and see where this takes you in your investigations. 

As long as you are making changes and moving forward towards a goal, you will get there even if it takes you little steps to do it.  

Allow your career to evolve in the way you want it to. 

 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Are you one of the 8 out of 10 adults unhappy at work?

According to a recent survey, eight out of 10 adults are unhappy with their work and most are too scared to change jobs.

It saddens me to read such statistics.  Are there really this many people unhappy at work?  (You may question the fact that only 2000 adults participated in the survey but I am sure these results will be resonating with many of you reading this blog.)

The survey also found:

·         74% are too afraid to change career

·         68% are in their career for money

·         55% have skills outside of the workplace

What’s going on around us to create such negativity?  Are we lacking careers guidance? Is it a problem with the workplace?  Are we lacking confidence?

The article suggests that many feel powerless to follow their dreams.  Is this true?  If you are feeling unhappy at work, are you really powerless to do anything about it? 

Think about the decisions you are currently making within your career.  Are they the right ones?

Whether you have decided to stay in your current career or feel you can make a career change, ask yourself these questions to help you make the best decision.  These questions are a selection taken from Debbie Ford’s ‘The Right Questions’ and are geared towards helping you achieve the life you want.

1.     Will this choice propel me towards an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?

2.     Will this choice bring me long term fulfilment or will it bring me short term gratification? 

3.     Am I standing in my power or trying to please another? 

4.     Am I looking for what is right or am I looking for what is wrong? 

5.     Will this choice add to my life force or will it rob me of my energy? 

6.     Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve or will I use it to beat myself up? 

7.     Does this choice empower me or does it disempower me? 

8.     Is this an act of faith or is this an act of fear?

If you are feeling unhappy at work, start making small changes to put things right for you.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Choosing the right time in your career to start a family

The recent news coverage of the birth of Prince George has no doubt prompted a lot of thought about starting a family.  There will of course be those of you who are fed up of hearing about the baby Prince and have not given it a second thought but there will also be a number of you who are wondering when it will be your turn to make this step into parenthood.

If you are mulling over the idea of parenthood, I am sure much of your thought is taken up by the future of your career.  How will my career and a baby fit together?  Will my chances of a promotion diminish?  Will I ever achieve a work-life balance? Often the biggest question of all is...

When is the right time in my career to start a family?

A challenging question to answer and a question only you can answer. You have to do what is right for you in the circumstances taking into account practical, financial and emotional considerations. 

 As you think about your answer, here are some links to recent articles on the subject that you may find interesting.·        
  • Women delay careers to have children.  According to research by the London School of Economics, women are putting off their career to have children.  The article states that the proportion of women born between 1985 and 1994 in the work place is lower than those born 10 years earlier.  Would you want to delay your career to have children?

  • The public want William and Kate to return to royal duties.  According to YouGov research for the Sunday Times, the public think the Duke and Duchess should return to duties soon rather than giving up time to spend with their baby.  When would you want to return to work after having a baby? 

Remember, although these articles may give some thought on the subject, it is ultimately your decision.

www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk


Monday, 15 July 2013

Even Wimbledon champions have a team behind them – Who’s on your team?

We all need a team to help us achieve our career ambitions.  Attempting to progress alone will not only increase your work load but cause significant stress.  A team can help strengthen your abilities and accelerate your achievements.

For Andy Murray, winning Wimbledon was one of his major career ambitions but he did not attempt to win it alone.  Throughout his career he carefully built a team around him and he uses this team to support and influence him.  This is the team that helped him to win Wimbledon.
 
Do you have the right team supporting your career?
 
To help you identify your team members, first have a look at Andy Murray’s team:
 

‘Team Murray’

·         Ivan Lendl – coach, ensuring Andy is in top shape and provides him with mental strength.
·         Jez Green – fitness coach, ensuring Murray has the stamina to compete.
·         Dani Vallverdu – assistant coach, tactical analyst and hitting partner.
·         Matt Little – strength and conditioning coach, helping to ensure Murray survives injury-free.
·         Johan de Beer/Andy Ireland – physiotherapist, helping Murray to recover from injury.
·         Louise Irving and Matt Gentry – PR team.


Family

·         Mother – helped Andy to grow as a tennis player
·         Girlfriend – emotional support
·         Father – emotional support

 
Each member of Andy’s team plays a vital role in providing him with the physical and emotional support required to achieve.  

Now think about how you can form the equivalent team to help build your career.  Here are some ideas:

·         Your family/partner – emotional support
·         Boss – providing guidance and teaching.
·         Colleagues – to build skills and share ideas.
·         Previous boss/colleagues/your outside network – can help when you are ‘stuck in a rut’.
·         Career and Performance Coach – enhancing skills and performance as well as mental strength. 
·         Referees – your PR team.


Start building your team now.  Give yourself a head start and ensure you have the right team to help you achieve your career ambitions.

 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Things to avoid during an interview

My previous two blogs talked about you need to do in order to have a successful interview.  This blog is all about what not to do.   

You will find below a list of some of the things to avoid during an interview which I hope will be of use to you.

1.     Do not be late.  Ensure you allow yourself plenty of time to travel to your interview.  First impressions are crucial.

2.     Do not criticise your current employer/boss.  Be professional.  Your interviewer might wonder what you would say about their company if you were to get the job as well as view you as a negative person.

3.     Do not lie.  For example, do not cover up gaps on your CV.  You will be caught out at some stage, particularly when references are requested.  Instead, prepare constructive responses to questions regarding gaps and be honest.  You do not want to raise suspicion.

4.     When you are asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview, do not simply say ‘no’.  Ensure you have prepared a good question to ask (even if you already know the answer!).

5.     Do not talk too much.  You are at risk of waffling and saying the wrong thing.  Keep to the point.

6.     When asked why you want the job, sell yourself.  For example, do not say ‘because it is closer to home’.  Sound like you really want the job.

7.     When asked for weaknesses, do not say that you don’t have any.  Prepare an answer to this question and turn your weakness into a positive.

8.     Do not interrupt.  Listen carefully to the questions and take a breath before giving your answer.  There is no need to rush.

9.     Do not ask for days off.  You can have this conversation when they make you an offer.

10.  Do not talk about salary unless the interviewers raise this topic during the interview.

Carrying out thorough preparation will prevent you from making mistakes such as these during an interview and increase your chances of success.
 

Monday, 22 April 2013

What are the most common interview questions?

Following on from my last blog, ‘How to have a successful interview’, I thought it would be useful for me to set out some typical interview questions to assist with your interview preparation. These are only a selection of the questions you may get during an interview but should provide you with a starting point.

1.     What are your weaknesses/strengths?
2.     What was your greatest achievement in your job?
3.     Explain a situation when you have had to deal with a difficult person.
4.     How do you motivate people?
5.     Why is there a gap in your CV?
6.     How do you go about problem-solving?
7.     If you were going to start your career again, what changes would you make?
8.     Tell me about yourself.
9.     Why do you want the job?
10.  What are your ambitions?
11.  Describe a difficult decision you had to make.  Would you make the same decision again faced with the same situation?
12.  How do you go about motivating yourself?
13.  What qualities can you bring to the job?
14.  What achievements in your life are you most proud of?
15.  How do you feel about supervising people older than you?
16.  How would you deal with a situation when you are not in agreement with the rest of the team?
17.  How do you respond to change?
18.  What experiences most influenced your development as an individual?
19.  What do you know about this organisation and why do you want to work here?
20.  How do you react to pressure?
 
Competency Questions
The other types of questions you may get at interview are competency questions.  As stated in my previous blog, in response to competency questions consider examples that relate to the job you are applying for.  For example, if you need to influence people, think of an example when you have won someone over in a way relevant to the role.  The following structure should help you to prepare answers for these types of questions:

1.     Objective

2.     Need/problem

3.     How you met the need/resolved the problem

4.     What was the outcome/benefit?

5.     What you learnt from it and what you would do differently next time.

 
Remember, preparation is the key to success!

Monday, 8 April 2013

How to have a successful job interview

You have applied for a job and made it to interview stage – congratulations!  Now is the time to demonstrate to your interviewers how brilliant you are. 

How do you do this?

You spend time preparing for your interview to ensure you make the most of this opportunity.

Here are some useful topics for you to think about whilst making your preparations: 

1.     Practical steps

·         Know the time and place of the interview.   
·         Do you need to confirm your attendance?
·         Find out who is interviewing you and the type of interview (e.g. will it be competency based?). 
·         Ensure you have all the paperwork requested and take a copy of your CV/application.
·         Have you got an appropriate outfit to wear?
·         Take with you a contact telephone number, map and the interview confirmation letter.

2.     Research the company
Use the internet and your contacts to find out about the company. How is it developing?  Why do you want to work there?  What are the major challenges facing the company?

3.     Key points
Outline the key points you would like to get across during the interview in line with the job description, highlighting key aspects of your experience, qualifications and skills.

4.     Typical questions
Prepare answers to typical interview questions.  For example, define your key attributes and provide examples of when you have demonstrated these.  In response to competency questions, consider examples that relate to the job you are applying for.  For example, if you need to influence people think of an example when you have won someone over in a way relevant to the role.

5.     Difficult questions
Prepare persuasive answers to difficult questions.  These could be relating to weaknesses or gaps in employment.  
6.     Questions for the interviewer
Prepare a couple of constructive questions to ask the interviewer.

7.     Rehearse
Find a trusted friend or relative to practise your answers with.

Imagine how great you will be in the interview having spent time preparing answers in line with the above points compared to a candidate who has quickly read through the job specification the night before.  Preparation is definitely the key to success!
 

Monday, 25 March 2013

How are we looking after our solicitors?

69% of calls to LawCare due to stress

I have just been reading LawCare’s news for Spring 2013 outlining the statistics for 2012 and felt it was necessary to raise awareness of the number of solicitors calling for help.  

Below is a selection of the statistics outlined:

·         378 case files opened, with 1,206 further calls involving follow up related to these original calls.

·         69% of the calls were due to stress.

·         272 of the callers were able to identify a specific cause for their problem and 28% of these identified the cause to be workload.

·         62% of the callers were female.

·         35% of the callers were trainees or had been qualified for five years of less.

·         62% of the callers were solicitors.

Sad, isn’t it?

I also get a number of calls from solicitors each week who are feeling extremely stressed by their work and seeking help with their career.  It makes you wonder how many more lawyers out there are unhappy at work but have yet to seek help.

My question is:

How are we looking after our solicitors? 

There are so many tools and techniques that can be used to address career and personal development issues and, if these issues are addressed at the earliest opportunity, lawyers can be prevented from running out of coping strategies and becoming increasingly stressed.
 
I would love to hear how law firms are dealing with this issue as these statistics seem to show that more attention needs to be given to those solicitors who are struggling at work. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Which career will best suit my skills and experiences?


There must be something out there I would enjoy.

I have no idea what I want to do.

I am not sure if this is what I want to do forever.

How do I change career?

I speak to a number of people each week who are feeling disillusioned by their current role and want to change career.  However, they are struggling to identify a career that would best suit their skills, experiences and personality.  They are spending hours searching the internet for jobs and reading hundreds of job advertisements in the hope that one will stand out as their dream job for the future. 

Perhaps a dream job can be discovered this way but you will find this method extremely time consuming and a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. 

If you have spent a lot of time searching for job advertisements, now may be the time to have a short break from the internet and take a step back into your own world.  This is the time to start developing your self-awareness and find out who you are and want you want. 

What does this mean?  Well, first start assessing your skills, strengths and interests.  What do you enjoy doing?  What are you good at?  Find out what really makes you tick.  You could ask trusted friends and family for help in developing your ideas. 

Next, consider what is really important to you in your personal and working life.  Would you be willing to move for your career?  How much do you want to earn?  How many hours are you willing to work?

Whilst making these assessments about yourself, spend time imagining your first day in your ideal job.  Where are you? What would you be doing?  Who would you be talking to?  Find out what your imagination can tell you.

Keep thinking and once you have really gained an understanding of who you are, this is the time to start exploring different career ideas which closely match your discoveries.

Building your self-awareness is the first best step to enable the discovery of what you want to do.

For additional help, do click here to sign up for my 30 tips on making a successful career change and getting the job you want.

 
www.tessaarmstrong.co.uk