Categories
Careers Flexible Working Output Recruitment

The 3 Ts of Productivity – Task, Time and the One that Everyone Forgets About

We generate endless to-do lists for our work and personal lives.

Tasks are logged.

Calendars ensure we do not embarrassingly double book. The latest apps are available with features to mark milestones and keep us on track.

So why are we not always as efficient as we could be? Because tasks and time are not the only part of the productivity mix.

The missing ingredient

We overlook the element that smashes our procrastination, slays our negative thoughts and rejuvenates our weariness. Louis Pasteur, whom we have to thank for immunizations and pasteurized milk, once stated,

Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Tenacity is the incredible ability to carry on in the face of challenges, the force that brings us our hard-won triumphs. If the road seems endless and we are running on empty, it is the stubbornness to persist that’s the real driver of success. But the problem with tenacity is that we do not have it all of the time. Levels fluctuate and sometimes erratically.

What eating radishes teaches us

There is no limitless well of tenacity in the same way that there is no infinite source of energy (we all need to sleep).

In the now infamous cookie test, Roy Baumeister placed two groups of volunteers in a room with a batch of tempting, delicious-smelling cookies and some radishes. One group could eat the yummy cookies whilst the other could only munch on the tangy and comparatively less satisfying veg. After a while, the volunteers were given complex tests. The group that had to resist the cookies gave up on problems more easily.

The take-away from this experiment, asserts Baumeister, is that the radish participants used up a part of their store of mental energy in resisting the sweet treats. Their willpower or tenacity was depleted.

A state of mind and a muscle

Tenacity may be seen not solely a state of mind to be summoned at will but a muscle that, when over-used, gets tired and drained. This is a factor that impacts on the productivity of one’s work and personal life. So, what changes can be made?

Top 5 techniques to turbocharge your tenacity

1. Goal focus – It’s inevitable that we have to face up to energy zapping tasks. You may need to chase invoices – again. Despondency sets in. But think instead that this is just one more step to your objective of having as successful business. When things can get dreary, overarching goals are motivators. Seeing the bigger picture will help you get through the smaller, arduous tasks.

2. What is this costing me? – you may put off tasks or do them slowly or less effectively. Ask yourself what this approach is costing you. Energy? Time loss? An unhappy state of mind? Is this the way you want things to be? In order to avoid these negativities, a tenacity boost can perk you up. Sticks are as much motivators as carrots.

3. Flexibility – flexible working has myriad advantages and one of these is being able to fit in your work around your mood. You can move tasks around when you are best able to do them or when you have the most energy to go full pelt. Reschedule for potential.

4. Learn from the past – Think back to all those times when you felt you couldn’t do something but did it anyway. What were the triggers that kept you going? Consider the qualities that you demonstrated at that point and heed them. Those characteristics have not disappeared, even though it feels that way sometimes, and they are still a part of you. Think about your qualities.

5. Quick fixes – There are various ways to encourage tenacity to take root even if you feel overwhelmed. Practising mindfulness soothes a jittering mind. Relaxation techniques ease tension out of the body and they only take a few minutes. A short but brisk cardio-pumping walk cracks stagnation. Devise your own tenacity playlist and turn up the volume on music that is pitch perfect for you.

Does it really work in practice?

From the whole Find Your Flex team, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”. We operate completely flexibly and are encouraged to engage when suits us best. We adopt an output based attitude rather than concentrating on set hours and rigid employment structures. This is an empowering approach for us all to reach our targets but in our own personal and most effective way. We have tried it and we can say that it works.

Your mental power tool is tenacity

Task and time remain the building blocks for effective diary management. You absolutely need to define what needs to be done and how long it will take – especially if you are charging yourself and your skills out to make a profit. Nonetheless it is possible to alter your mindset to give it a boost and replenish your reserves.

To enhance your own “Output” and to get more out of your day, use ways to tap into your tenacity.

It is an oft forgotten innate power tool – One that you can use to drill deep for success.

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day in the Life Of Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager: Annalisa West

Marketing is an amazing sector and requires individuals of both intelligence and creativity. They use these attributes to draw and hold our attention and make us buy into the vision they are depicting. This is why the Find Your Flex team is excited to get the perspective of the amazing Annalisa West; Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager for St. James’s Place.

We cannot wait to hear all about the day to day working life of such a varied and interesting role and hope you will find it inspiring and beneficial!

What does a working day look like for a Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager?

My day can range from having meetings with key stakeholders, to creating promotional videos and writing articles for both traditional and social media.

How do you find a work life balance?

I’ve learnt to compartmentalize my life, be extremely organised and have a process for everything to maintain a good work life balance. Since becoming a mum this has become even more crucial because life is busy! Success for me regarding a great work life balance depends on having the right mindset and ensuring I don’t become overwhelmed, I always think ‘process not outcome’, which really helps. Regarding work, I set goals with workable, realistic steps of how I’ll achieve them. I have a clear process every day; I create a daily ‘to do’ list and I use the Eisenhower Matrix to plan my work in order of priority. What really helps is that, since having my first son (who is now 6), I am a homeworker. St. James’s Place are superb at looking after their employee’s welfare in this way and have certainly provided me with unwavering support, which I believe is reciprocated in the work I am able to produce for the company. Every Sunday evening I look at my work diary to plan what’s happening for the week ahead. I do this with my husband, who does the same, so we’re both aware of each other’s work commitments for the week.

In doing this we can then ensure that whatever responsibilities we have to our sons and our home life for the coming week are organised around work commitments. With anytime that’s left I plan when I can exercise and have time alone in my garden, which changes from week to week. Exercising 3-4 times a week and getting in my garden are non-negotiable things for me to do, even if it means fitting them in at six in the morning or in the evening when my children are in bed. I’m a keen gardener and always have been, it’s a creative outlet for me that I love where I can just switch off. I’m a firm believer that in order to bring my best to my work and home life, maintaining a good work life balance, I need to take care of my mental and physical health. Having time to switch off in the garden and exercising regularly definitely supports this.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Yes, St. James’s Place are very supportive of professional development, in fact I go so far as to say it’s actively encouraged, as part of our culture, for everyone to be the best version of themselves. If I’ve ever felt I the need to develop an area of my skills which will enable me to do my role more successfully, I can honestly say training has been fully supported throughout my (almost) 11 years with the company. There is a fantastic programme of internal workshops and training and opportunities to move jobs internally are openly advertised on our intranet for everyone to see. If you work hard at St. James’s Place it does not go unnoticed, it’s a great organisation that feels like a family, despite being a FTSE 100 company, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’m also delighted to be an integral part of the marketing team who promote our Academy programme, offering opportunities to people outside of the organisation a chance to change career and progress professionally. It’s a joy to interview people who have joined our Academy programme and hear how we’ve empowered them to begin a new career and it has changed the lives of both themselves and their family! So many people get to a stage in their career where they don’t feel they can progress, and they need a new challenge or a completely new career direction. For them the Academy is a fantastic programme. The programme offers high calibre and driven individuals an exciting chance to begin a career in financial advice.

What is the best part about being Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager?

As I mentioned, I’m positively changing lives; with the promotional material I create I’m helping to find the next generation of Financial Advisers. This is so important to me in a profession where there’s only (circa) 26 thousand Financial Advisers in the UK and there’s literally millions of people with money to invest, who don’t have a Financial Adviser and would benefit from their guidance. I’m excited by the fact that I’m helping to make a difference to the profession and to help increase the avenues to advice for these investors. I also know, having interviewed many of the people who I’ve helped to attract to join St. James’s Place, that becoming a Financial Adviser is the best decision they’ve ever made and it has changed their lives in numerous ways. There’s so much satisfaction in knowing my role in the team as a marketeer is helping to make a difference to so many people, those who join us and become top-class Financial Advisers and those people who become clients of St. James’s Place and gain, in my opinion, the best financial advice.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Working with such a diverse group within St. James Place, it can be challenging to meet the production requirements for all the individual people or teams who want some form of marketing material. On occasion for logistical, time, budgetary or even creative reasons it’s not possible to give them precisely what they want and having to say ‘no’ when a piece of work someone wants just isn’t achievable is always tough. It doesn’t happen often and normally at worst we find a workable middle ground, but when it does it becomes a problem for which we always try to find a future solution.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

If you like storytelling, be that written or visual then, go for it! because you’d love a career in marketing. It’s challenging in a positive way; ascertaining the best way to engage with people, taking their vision (or sometimes just a thought) and turning it into a living breathing product designed to engage people and make them feel a certain way, understand a specific concept or just think about a new subject is very satisfying when it works well. There are often times when frustrations and complications test you along the way, but that makes it all the more fulfilling when your finished product is made public and does its job. It really does make you feel like you have achieved something, and I love it!

Thank you to Annalisa for sharing your insights as a Recruitment Marketing Specialist Manager!

The Find Your Flex team would like to thank Annalisa for highlighting the amazing hallmarks of her role! It’s truly inspiring to gain such a balanced perspective on what working in a senior Marketing role looks like and know that anyone who reads this will know they have the perfect insight into whether this would be a career that they themselves would aim for

There are many different careers out there and if you want to gain some more insights, why not check out A Day in the Life of The Head of UX and Optimisation: Becky Franks?

Categories
Business Careers Future of work Interviews And CV's Recruitment

Salaries In Job Descriptions: Candidates want Employers to be Upfront

Find Your Flex is a platform with a purpose. And that purpose is to build a better future of work for all. Today we are discussing salaries in job descriptions!

Recently we conducted a poll on various social media platforms on the inclusion of stated salaries in job descriptions. The response was overwhelming.

We asked the question: “If a Salary isn’t stated on a Job Description does it put you off?

The post went viral, reaching over 100,000 views and over 4,100 people voted. 84% of people who voted said; yes they would be put off by a job description that does not state a salary.

Many of the voters supplied their reasons why and we noticed a particular pattern forming.

No Time for Time Wasters

It usually puts me off entirely. If the job sounds like a particularly good fit and I enter a discussion with a recruiter about it, the salary range is the first question I’ll ask. If the recruiter won’t give me the salary range at the start, I’ll politely end the call there as I don’t want to waste my time.

The most prominent reason given for why people would be put off applying, was that they didn’t want to waste time.

Supplementary to that was that most people apply for jobs that will continue to facilitate their lifestyle needs.

Applicants don’t want to waste their time applying. Only to find out further down the line that the salary will not sufficiently meet their needs.

How can you make a decision about viability of changing a role/ company if you can’t equate whether you could continue to afford to live your existence?

Applicants also see this as a lack of respect in valuing their time. Or even shows ignorance about the amount of time and effort candidates put into their job applications.

If a candidate really wants a role they can spend hours catering their CV and covering letter specifically to that role and company.

Why should you spend the time and energy polishing a resume, applying, stressing, interviewing, waiting…just to find the salary range is something you would have never applied for in the first place?

Salaries in job descriptions – a lack of transparency results in a lack of trust

Good candidates who pull out are less likely to apply to the organisation again and more likely to share their experience with their connections.

No company should ever underestimate the power of word of mouth.

It only takes one applicant to have a bad experience during the recruitment process for this to snowball. Social Networking and Social Media is a huge part of our daily lives.

All it takes is one post by an applicant with the right social connections to spread the word about how poor an employer’s recruitment process is.

I somehow always get the impression that these companies are looking for the highest skilled employee who ticks all the right boxes whom they can then insult by offering as little as possible for their services.

This all contributes to a company’s brand reputation. When it is clear that one aspect of the business has a negative reputation, it starts a domino effect in the eyes of the public. It’s clear to see their train of thought:

If a company has poor recruitment, they must be a poor employer. If they’re a poor employer, the service can’t be great. If the service isn’t great I should take my custom elsewhere.

Even in its simplest form, if you’re not being open about yourselves as an employer, why should candidates trust you?

Believe you are good and fair employer? Then literally put your money/salaries where your mouth is so candidates will know it!

If you are proud of what you pay your people you will have no problem, putting this out.

Don’t play games with people’s livelihoods

What puts me off is when the recruiter asks what salary you expect. I just reply, asking what the company is offering. You can’t beat around the bush… it gets you nowhere and does no one any favours in the long run … Be up front and don’t treat it like a game. Life is too short!!

Even if salaries are negotiable, a range between the minimum and maximum should be advertised to show applicants where they stand.

And once those negotiations begin, both parties need to be forthcoming about what their expectations are to meet a certain salary.

This is important as salaries can also help an applicant determine their level of seniority.

The ludicrous requirements for even the most junior roles make it difficult to determine the seniority, in a way that salary absolutely defines.

In negotiating anything, both sides need to be aware of the stakes. A candidate needs to know what it is they are negotiating for. It is better to state a salary in the job description than make applicants struggle to negotiate in the dark. This is just another form of playing games.

And its important that the employer is not considered a dictator, as this once again impacts their reputation. If the salary is negotiable, both parties must have something to negotiate with.

“Negotiating power lies with the employer if a salary isn’t listed. Whilst you can negotiate during the final stage of interviews, you should at least see salary expectations and that your potential employer has done some research into the role before you apply.

Just ticking a recruitment box?

It makes me feel like the recruiter is just trying to collect CVs to stick in a database and tick a box.”

This may not be just about salary. A lack of effort and details in a job description will be a sure sign to any applicant that the employer is not overly interested in the quality of the applicant.

But it is clear that to some applicants, an unstated salary is a red flag that employers do not care about the application and are just ticking a HR box.

Thus sending a message that employers don’t care enough to put in the research of the role they are recruiting for. And what the standard salary is for such a role.

If you don’t advertise a salary then for me it says to a potential applicant is these guys are potentially looking to do this on the cheap or have no idea about the marketplace and so can’t even pitch a salary for the role.”

It can also show a poor HR department or recruiter. As top quality candidates who know their value will be looking out for a salary. These will be less likely to apply for the role.

Where an abundance of perhaps under-qualified candidates will be in their place resulting in hours of sifting through applications.

“It usually means HR and hiring managers spending unnecessary time sifting through more CV’s and interviewing candidates that if they discover the salary is too low will pull out.”

Salaries in job descriptions: The candidates have spoken. Now employers must listen

The response was loud and clear. The general theme that employers have a responsibility to state salaries in their job descriptions cannot be ignored.

If employers continue to omit such crucial information from the job description they not only risk losing potentially amazing recruits, but could be doing substantial damage to their brand reputation.

To conclude, its not difficult to state a salary in job description, even if its a range between the minimum and the maximum, at least then everyone knows where they stand. The only one that stands to miss out on not stating a salary is the employer.

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work

A Day in the Life Of a Founder and CEO: Alex Tomchenko

Alex is the Founder and CEO of Glambook; an all-in-one platform created to aid beauty professionals grow their budding businesses. Alex has an extremely positive and forward-thinking outlook on the life of a CEO. He highlights how much time, dedication and hard work it takes to build a thriving business. While also pointing out the need to decompress when you can and leave business at the door and make time for yourself. 

Alex also has some unique views on the meaning of progress and how transferable skills can be used to help build a brand. He also points out the importance of utilizing fresh talent prepared to soak up new ways of doing things and how this can be more beneficial to growing businesses than recruiting based on experience. This is definitely a mindset geared toward the future of working and we are excited to learn more about Alex and his working life as a Founder and CEO.   

What does a working day look like for a Founder & CEO?

I wake up at 7:00am and after a nutritious breakfast I start checking my inbox and messages. We meet with the team at 9:00am to help us align on priorities and set up the tone for the day. Before lunch, I’m focused on monitoring our results and growth and take a few more business meetings. After lunch, I spend time on mapping out business goals and tasks, aligning on workflow and hosting additional meetings. Towards the end of the day, I look at our daily progress and that helps me identify our goals and tasks for the next day. I go to bed at 11:30pm.

How do you find a work life balance?

To be honest, it’s not easy to strike a perfect work and life balance during the growth stage of a startup. What helps is that I work on something that I’m truly passionate about and I do it together with my wife, who is my co-founder. While we don’t have a strict schedule that divides our business and personal lives, we manage to find time for both. Usually, we are busy with work during the day and late evenings are reserved for things not related to business.

Are there opportunities to progress?

Progress is an important part of life. However, progress doesn’t necessarily mean doing something new. Often, it’s finding a new way to do something. At Glambook, we’re doing just that, finding a way to transition the beauty industry into the digital space. I’m a believer that opportunities for progress are always here and they will always be available.

What is the best part about being Founder & CEO?

The best part of my job is to have freedom to create a product the way you envision it. To create a product that will bring value to your users. If you can’t find something that works for you, you can create it. During my 13+ years spearheading a digital marketing agency, I gained valuable experience in promoting and growing other people’s products, so now I am fortunate to have an opportunity to finally use those skills and experience to build and grow my own product.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Challenges help you have a different perspective, think outside of the box and look for alternatives, which means constant growth and development. I’m not a big fan of formalities – to have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, or create documents for the sake of having them, so I prefer to focus on things that matter, bring value and make a process more meaningful.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This is something I’ve learned the hard way during my time at the digital marketing agency. It’s a much smoother and easier task to bring a beginner up to speed than trying to ask an established expert to re-learn and do things differently. An established professional may already have their own point of view and past experiences that prevent them from seeing a full picture. For someone who is just starting out in a new industry, there’s a much higher chance of being successful. Be curious, goal-oriented and motivated by the project you’re about to kick off. As the saying goes, if you’re trying to do the impossible, do it with people who don’t know that this is impossible.

THANK YOU TO ALEX FOR SHARING HIS INSIGHTS AS A FOUNDER AND CEO WITH US!

These were some amazing and unique insights from Alex, who shows us what it means to have the entrepreneur mindset, having not only the passion to create something unique but also to keep your eye on the future. Alex showcases a forward-thinking mindset, highlighting the fact that experience isn’t everything and if you do have experience, it is important to be flexible in your approach to different aspects of business. A refreshing take on the working life of a Founder and CEO! Alex also made the point of how his skills in marketing were transferable when creating his own product and business, which is something all of our readers should consider. We hope you enjoyed reading all about Alex’s amazing and interesting work life!

For other takes on the working life of a Founder and CEO why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Founder and CEO: Alex Bozhin.

Categories
Automation Career Change Career Returners Career Returners Careers Digital Skills Students and Graduates Technology Industry

Tech Skills and Flexible Working

From FREE tech bootcamps to employment brilliance……………….

Skills City & Host Manchester are hosting tech courses, fully funded by the Department for Education, to empower women in the North West to find inspiring flexible careers and to help level the playing field when it comes to gender equality.

Find Your Flex is partnering with Skills City and Host in Media City, in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, to help women in this region to gain qualifications and new skills and to turbocharge female representation in the tech industry. For some of the courses, no experience is required. We know that women have the ability to be the future leaders in tech.

What do you want to be?

This general question is asked of girls when they grow up and again as women later in life. The answers may be limited and gender-bound.

Today we can ask any gender, very different questions.

Would you like to become a cyber analyst and protect society and your family from the rise of cyber-fraud?

Perhaps you are excited about building your own app or software to launch that brilliant new business idea you have?

Are you a creative graphic designer with 3D skills that you would like to take to the new level? Perhaps you want to work for a company that didn’t exist 10 years ago but has since revolutionised TV & Film and soon to do the same with Gaming? Ever fancied a career at Netflix?

If so, the opportunity is right here to take that step forward and realise your aspirations. Skills City will give you the tools, the support and the confidence to forge a fascinating career.

Women in tech

The statistics in tech are dismaying – it’s male dominated with a low percentage of engagement from women. Just 19% of the UK tech workforce is female.

Why aren’t there more women in tech in 2021?

It starts early when girls are given dolls to play with whilst boys have Meccano sets to build and create models. These boys may have grown up to become men who believe they can build and create. They feel confident of their ability to build ‘stuff’.

Women are fed a narrative that focuses on being caring and nurturing and capable of organising a household. Then as adults we face guilt about being a working mother (the motherly stereotype most 30-something plus women today witnessed didn’t include Mothers handling Zoom meetings, deadlines and a toddler under their feet. We’ve grown up believing we are particularly suited to certain ‘types’ of employment.

But the reality is that women have many qualities that are well suited to a tech career.

Intelligent and probing minds, a love of problem solving, strategic thinking and a laser focus on finding solutions and the art of collaboration.

It’s time tech truly tapped into female potential

Our current world has been built by men for men – and it’s time for change!

Digital technology is critical to all our lives in terms of access to education, culture, health, leisure, employment and entrepreneurship.

But that world so far has been largely built by men without the full and necessary input of the other 50% of our population.

Unicef, highlighting the gender digital divide, states that digital products and services need to be designed for women as well, instead of using the male view of systems and tech platforms, as the gender default.

As Unicef continues, “women are left out of co-creation, design and product testing.”

We need diversity at all levels, to address this fundamental problem.

Our world is changing.

Do you want to be a part of shaping it to be more gender neutral and fair?

You don’t need a stellar academic education or be the next tech whizz kid.

You just need to have an interest in the new opportunities inspired by tech – honestly there’s nothing more to it.

Tech as a game changer

Tech’s importance as the largest game-changer in terms of its ability improve the way we live, work and become available to more opportunities is exponential.

Jobs that historically have required the human touch (retail, hospitality, customer services, sales) are increasingly becoming automated and that rise is inexorable.

We need all pivot to some degree if we are to have the tools we require for our future world of work, and the way we interact and flourish within in it.

The aim of the Skills City initiative is to ensure that women from all backgrounds are trained up and fired up to access a wealth of opportunities to get fulfilling and flexible employment.

Tech is not only a game changer in how we interact with digital products.

It is a social game changer too.

There is huge scope for people from non-traditional backgrounds to take a leap forward in terms of earnings potential.

Jobs are well paid (mid tech is around £40k-60k) and this can help narrow the gender pay gap.

It’s an amazing chance for women retuning to the workplace after a career break and offers a myriad of opportunities for people with disabilities as remote working can be the norm.

Opportunity knocks

Women are just as capable as men with dealing STEM but are less likely to engage in that field in the first place. A lack of familiarity of what opportunities are out there may be a factor. There may be a presumption of a lack of flexibility in work patters. A dearth of confidence to participate in a male-dominated industry may also play a role.

That needs to change.

We would say take every chance you are given to find out because your perfect career may be waiting for you to discover it. The demand is there, the jobs are there, now we need trained human input. That person could be you and you could be more suited to a career in tech than you may initially assume. This is why government is running courses like this with the aim of make a social shift in how women approach tech.

Being a cyber analyst, for example, is about much more than sitting with a keyboard. It is about protecting people, often those whom we care about most. Cyberfraud is on in the increase, as is hacking, scamming and cyber-bullying. Our personal data and our finances are at risk and need continual protection. Women are just as capable as men of providing that sword and that shield.

Flex your tech

The rise of tech can also be linked to the rise in flexible working.

Set aside the stereotype of inflexible hours.

You are not bound to a particular location or to a designated 9-5, clock-on and clock-on regime. There is scope for you to mould your work around the rest of your life. This is particularly helpful for women who bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to housekeeping, childcare and caring for elderly relatives.

Before you now lies a fascinating chance to create a balanced life.

As the Harvard Business Review points out It’s a chance for women to shape the communities and world that we live in. It’s a chance for women’s voices to be heard and to be united, and to for their skills to be utilised to the full extent and capabilities. Tech has removed many physical and psychological barriers to employment.

Once you have the skills you need, there are incredible job opportunities out there for you to take advantage of.

What are you waiting for? Pull on your boots and get Skilled-up at the camp.

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers

A Day in the Life of the Head of UX & Optimisation: Becky Franks

This week Find Your Flex is excited to be delving in to the life of Becky Franks; Head of UX and Optimisation for the Co-Operative Bank. But it doesn’t stop there, Becky is also the lead their Digital Bees colleague network. As a woman who wears many hats for the company and does so splendidly, we are ecstatic to see what Becky’s working day looks like. We hope our readers will find this interesting and perhaps even consider Becky’s path if pursuing a career in the same field!

What does a working day look like for the Head of UX & Optimisation and Lead on Digital Bees?

One of the things I love about my job is the variety of my role. In UX we have 5 teams, UX Design, Research, Service Design, Content and Optimisation. One day I might be in a workshop coming up with ideas for new propositions with the UX team, the next day I could be working with stakeholders outside of the team looking at how we tackle diversity and inclusion across the Bank. Through the Digital Bees I have spoken at events, conferences, to students and the general public to improve their digital skills and confidence. No day is the same.

How do you find a work life balance?

My work life balance is good, as a Digital Leadership team we regularly review how the teams are working and if anyone is working over their hours we will raise this with the individual to find out why. We have always been able to work from home which makes a real difference as you can us your lunch times to sort out things at home or go for a run. I real enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home.

Are there opportunities to progress?

100%! I have been at the Bank 4.5 years and have been promoted twice. I started as a Manager, moved to Lead and am now a Head of. There are always opportunities for people to progress who work hard and align to our values.

What is the best part about being the Head of UX & Optimisation and Lead on Digital Bees?

I really enjoy Leading my team and the Digital Bees and I love supporting people to progress and get the best out of them. I like bringing people together and tackling any issues as a team. There are some really talented and knowledgeably people in the team and I love learning from them.

Is there a difficult part to your job?

One of the most important parts of my job is to build strong stakeholder relationships. And make sure that the team does the same. Working from home means you have to put extra effort in. And make the effort to call and speak to people to resolve any issues before they escalate. It can also be hard to support so many people, my diary is usually back to back with meetings I sometimes miss out on supporting the team and attending meets as I just don’t have enough hours in the day.

If someone was considering a career in your area of expertise, what advice would you give to them?

Go for it! We have a really mixed team. Some people have degrees others have worked in the Bank and moved into the team and learnt on the job. Everyone has to start somewhere, if you want a role in UX there are lots of online courses. Be proactive, complete courses and do some voluntary work in UX, it looks great on your CV. If people tell me they don’t have time to do that I’d question how much they really want a role in UX! Opportunities are there but you need to work for them – you’re the only person who can change your career.

Thank you to Becky for sharing your insights as the Head of UX & Optimisation and Lead on Digital Bees!

It is inspiring to see someone take on so many responsibilities and also make the time for work life balance! Becky has given a perfect example of how hard work can pay off. And how to go about climbing the ladder of an organisation like the Co-Operative Group. We at Find Your Flex thank Becky Franks for giving us the scoop on what her working day looks like. And what it could look like for you if you wished to pursue the same or similar role!

If you want to find out about the work days of other careers, why not have a read of A Day in the Life Of a Co-Founder and CPO: Jacob Sever?

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Industry Flexers

Career Flexibility

When it comes to getting what you want from your career, having an attitude of flexibility can help you to take advantage of all the possibilities.

To have Career Flexibility and achieve your goals, you’ll want to set your boundaries. What are the areas where you can’t or won’t compromise? Salary? Location? Hours? Could you be tempted to travel further for more money or to work more hours for a really good role? If you can say ‘nothing would tempt me…’ then you know that you’ve drawn your line in the sand!

How could you achieve your aims by working differently? Often our attitudes to employment are quite rigid. We are limited by what we have done and influenced by our families and friends.

What would life look like beyond PAYE? How do you feel about self-employment? Freelancing? Consultancy? Employing others? If you have concerns, how could you address them? Could you combine self-employment with a part-time or seasonal PAYE role for security? If you worry about finding work, could you work as a freelancer or consultant for someone else?

Could you work two or more different jobs (sometimes known as a portfolio career)? This could broaden your horizons or allow you to experiment safely in a new career direction knowing that the old one is still bringing in money.

Could you job share your previous role or a new one? This could open up a wealth of more senior and interesting roles that aren’t advertised as part time.

Could you develop a hobby or interest into a side hustle? How could that become your main source of income?

In what areas, are you an ‘expert’? Not the world expert, but knowledgeable and experienced in a particular area. Is there something you know how to do that you could teach or train others to do?

Would you retrain to upskill or update your career? Would you retrain in order to change careers completely?

Whatever the job market or economic situation, Career Flexibility is a mindset for personal growth and new opportunities.

Career Coaching and Training to Relaunch Careers

Re-establishing your career after a parental career break or redundancy can be a daunting prospect. You may not be able to return to the job you did before, or your priorities may have changed and you would like to do something different. Whether your career gap is months or years, we are here to help.

The four things we cover:

1. Career Clarity – work out what to do next and how to get there.

2. CV-Writing – refresh or start your CV from scratch ready to market your expertise. We can also help you create a LinkedIn profile for the opportunities you want to attract.

3. Job Search – use your time effectively and efficiently to find the right job for you.

4. Interview Skills – regain confidence using our three step approach for interview success.

We do this through standalone e-learning and blended coaching programmes.

View our career programmes http://bit.ly/careercoachingprogrammes

Book a free career consultation https://bit.ly/careerconsultcp

Get your free guide to discover the best sites for flexible jobs https://bit.ly/flexjobsites

Join our Facebook Group for career break mums: https://www.facebook.com/groups/careerbreakmumsbycoachingpartners

Categories
Flexible Working Future of work Students and Graduates

Flexible Working: A Youth-Centred Approach to the Future

Oh to be in the flush of youth – light-hearted, happy-go-lucky, single (or at least on Tindr). With so many advantages, it is often assumed that flexible working is not much of a need or concern for the fresh-faced who are still in their salad days. Yet, those just starting out in life face a myriad of issues for which agile work formats can provide a solution.

Student Costs

Tuition fees are high, upwards of £9,000 and repayable with interest. Added to the cost of living away from home, many students are saddled with debt that they will spend perhaps decades paying off. Even the maintenance living grants are often not sufficient to cover the basics. “For many, wages from part-time work are the only way students can make ends meet,” states Sir Peter Lampl of The Sutton Trust.

Juggling intellectually strenuous courses with part-time jobs is not an easy balance to pull off. But without flexible work, many people simply could not afford a tertiary or further education. When we leave people unable to improve themselves and their prospects, both our society and our economy suffer. Flex is key to this.

Flexible Internships

To get work experience, you need work experience. It’s the circular system that holds many people back. Internships are difficult to get in the first place, as many seem to come through word-of-mouth, family connections or privileged social networks. There does not seem to be enough internships to go around.

A more radical idea would be to introduce job-share internships, with each person doing 2.5 days per week. Doubtless this would require careful management, especially when it comes to handovers. But it is a possible option that would mean that double the number of people would gain at least some experience and something to put on their CVs to move their careers forward. Businesses would, in turn, get the benefit of having more people to assess for specific roles.

Neurodiversity

Youth seems to be the most care-free time of our life but the statistics on the incidence of mental health do not relate merely to those who are older. But making small change can have a significant impact. For example, a person with depression (which can often be worse in the morning) who is allowed to come into work at 10am and work later in the day can get a job and can keep that job. Employed, contributing, paying tax – this is what young people can have if reasonable adjustments are made to their particular situation.

If you want to find out more about what neurodiverse people can do if businesses provide the right working conditions and flexible working opportunities, check out our piece that expands on this subject.

Carer Responsibilities

Many young people take care of elderly relatives at home. By assuming such duties, they save the taxpayer huge amounts of money, thus shouldering up an already creaking and under-resourced care system. But this can only be fair if the carer has some opportunity to work flexibly around these responsibilities.

The consequences of removing flexible working from the equation are two-fold. First, whilst taking on such caring tasks is humane, worthwhile and honourable, it leaves the carer with little else to put on their CV. This in turn limits the kinds of roles young carers can apply for. Secondly, carers may become trapped in a system of living on carer-related benefits because of their limited skills. Young people have dreams – and should be given an opportunity to accomplish them. Flexible working allows the possibility both for caring and for young people to fulfill their aspirations and potential.

Young people are our future world. So, it’s really never too early to enter flexible working.

Categories
Automation Career Change Careers Digital Skills Equality and Diversity Future of work Technology Industry

Cyber Security: Filling the Gender Skills Gap in Tech

Living in the digital age brings with it a whole new host of threats. 

The ever looming threat of automation and the number of job roles it will render as obsolete in the not to distant future. We can already see this in retail and hospitality industries, how many have replaced manned tills with self-service kiosks? The implications are there and to be sustainable, automation must create the same number of jobs it takes away. 

But there needs to be a learning curve to bridge the digital skills gap created during this process from now until 2025 when 10M jobs will fall out of the UK economy.   

People need to have the opportunity to learn the skills to be eligible for the new emerging roles, created by automation. 

This is why Skills City and Find Your Flex are stepping in; so we can provide these opportunities to those most in need of a “step up”. 

One of the main issues of the digital age is safety. 

Fraudsters don’t need to speak to you directly to steal from you, children cannot always escape school-bullies even in their own homes, wars these days are not always fought on land, sea or sky. 

All of these threats and many more take place online. Cyber-bullying, Online Fraudsters, Cyber-terrorists, Hackers etc. 

In the digital age, our lives are online, therefore the threats are too. 

So what’s the answer? 

Our physical safety is protected by the police, security guards, firefighters, paramedics, military and so on. 

Our online identities are protected by Information Security Administrators, Social Media Moderators, Security Software Developers, Cyber Intelligence Analysts and more. These roles have become just as vital to our protection as the former mentioned roles, all they require is the right tech skills to really set people on the right path.

Women in Tech

White males largely dominate the physical security roles mentioned previously. Unfortunately white males also dominate most roles within the technology sector. Currently only 23% of people in STEM occupations are female, including tech and this has to stop.  

The world is full of talented and intelligent women that could easily make a successful career within technology. And yet males dominate the industry.

It almost feels ridiculous to say this in this day in age; women are just as clever and technology minded as men. 

Why do I say that? 

Because clearly the message isn’t sinking in. 

This is why Skills City are adamant that women in the North West, whether they be graduates or career changers, need to consider a career in tech. 

We need to change these statistics and these online courses are the perfect way to do that. 

Every single student is guaranteed a job interview upon completion.  

The pandemic and the process of automation provides the perfect opportunity for us to see technology savvy women, recareer and make a HUGE DIFFERENCE to the technology workforce. 

GIF sourced from eloquence-of-felicities.tumblr.com

Cyber Security: We need our Cyber Soldiers

Cyber Security has become a vital part of national security. 

We hear about it all the time on the news, cyber terrorism and hackers are just as much of a threat to our personal safety and security as any physical threats.Often these things even hint at an act of war, and why wouldn’t they? 

With everything being online these days, a war can happen from the keyboards in your office and more easily than weapons could be mobilized on a battlefield. And the people sitting at those keyboards are becoming just as much our protective force as people in the military. 

The military have the stereotype of being for “big strong men” 

(although have you seen the Army’s latest recruitment ad to attract women? Check it out and Google Army + Emma). 

 The tech industry has developed a similar stereotype. 

Yet there was a supposed reason that women didn’t want to join the armed forces (and still do, especially in some divisions). The reason being that they weren’t thought to be as “physically capable” as men, which is bulls*#t. 

Yet even if that was true, there can be be no such reason for women not joining Cyber Security roles. 

Women are just a clever as any man. 

Just as capable of developing protective software and analyzing cyber threats. 

In this industry no one can deny that women are on any equal footing in terms of their capabilities and have a right defend their families and country as much as any man.

GIF Sourced from tenor.com

Ensuring our kids have Cyber Security

The world has had to accept that the majority of children spend a lot of their time online. And this of course brings threats that have already been plaguing us for years now. 

Our kids are not always safe from bullies or predators when they get home. This is a scary and uncomfortable topic that’s not nice to hear. 

But it’s real and we must discuss it in order to combat it. 

As adults we recognise that cyber bullying has caused many grown adults to leave social media and in the worst cases, cause depression, anxiety or even contribute towards someone taking their own life. Some have even had the terrifying experience of being stalked or threatened online.

So it’s completely understandable why there are many parents who don’t allow their child online because of these threats. 

While we’d never tell anyone how to raise their child, what we do know is as this is without question “The digital age”, preventing them from going online is likely to be a losing battle.  

Yes there are threats online but would you stop your child going to school to avoid bullying? 

Or prevent them going out with friends because there are ‘bad’ people out there? 

It’s the same basic principle here. Plus, so much social interaction between today’s youth is online. Keeping your kids away from it could affect them in other ways. 

So you might be thinking: “What can I do to help resolve this then?”

Like everything, nothing is black and white. You don’t need to either just let them go online and hope for the best or ensure they’re never on it at all. If you are a mother or father who is concerned for your child’s online safety, be a protective force for them and all children. 

You don’t have to be a techno genius who develops security software. With the basic tech skills taught in these courses you could become a Social Media Moderator or a Security Administrator. 

These are roles that actively seek out offensive, threatening or suspicious online behaviour and put a stop to it. 

If this is something you feel passionately about, equip yourself with the skills to do it.

In just 14 weeks, you could have the Cyber Skills to help keep our future generations safe. 

GIF Sourced from Pinterest

Cyber Security Online Course

Just like with any industry, the roles within Cyber Security vary and there has never been so much demand for all manner of commercial businesses looking for people like you NOW. 

The base skills for most cyber roles are taught at Raytheon Cyber Academy. Plus  it provides many transferable tech skills that would benefit another role within the sector.  

Automation will soon render many jobs obsolete. To create a new income in a sector that can offer flexible working, it’s imperative women join and participate in the tech workforce. We have to be the change we want to see. 

What if Cyber Security isn’t necessarily the tech avenue for you? 

Then you should definitely look at one of the other Skills City courses such as creative 3D Graphic Design and cloud engineering. Take look at courses from Unity Centre of Excellence and AWS re/start respectively. 

A career change may is both a smart choice but also an inevitability.

Check out all of Skills City tech boot camps here

Categories
A Day In The Life Of... Careers Flexible Working Future of work Meet the Team

Meet Kristina: Flexible Working Life of a Team Administrator

Administration is an intricate part of every industry, Administrators keep the wheels turning. Yet the role itself kind of has the stigma of being a 9 to 5 office job and perhaps that stigma is real. But we at Find Your Flex are aiming to ensure that in future no role has this stigma. And administration is an industry that needs to incorporate Flexible Working into all of its roles. There can be no greater example of this than our own Team Administrator Kristina Mich. Who has consented to share with us her unique journey to Flexible Working and why she now has a passion to bring it to others in her industry as you will see in the video below!

Journey to being a Flexible Working Mum

Kristina’s journey to Flexible Working starts in a very relatable way and one of the main reasons why Find Your Flex got started. Kristina became a Mum and naturally this became her top priority. However, Kristina found herself missing the woman she was before Motherhood; a passionate driven career woman who is passionate about helping teams reach their goals.

Though unfortunately, early on Kristina faced the harsh reality that many businesses are more concerned about the time you dedicate to them. Rather than working with you to see what hours are best for you and how you can be most productive. Kristina grew tired of fruitless job interviews with employers who did not respect her family needs. When she came across Find Your Flex, she was impressed by what she saw and it seemed to be the perfect company for her to be a part of. She took a chance and emailed our CEO Cheney Hamilton and it became clear things happen for a reason.

Flexible Working = Flourishing Talent

Kristina received a response and an interview from Cheney. And of course Kristina showcased every value and ideal that Find Your Flex was built upon. Within no time at all she was part of a team and environment that Kristina dived head first into and quickly proved herself to be a talented and dedicated individual! She quickly put her skills to good use and dedicated herself to picking everything up extremely quickly. She wasted no time in proving her value by getting to know each member of the team and being supportive and encouraging. As well as providing some unique resources only she could provide (some of these are showcased in the video below).

Kristina found the work-life balance she had been searching for. Feeling fulfilled in a role that allowed her to work from home without the need to commute via a train journey that could take hours. She is able to be the excellent Mother she is, as well as being the equally excellent Team Administrator for Find Your Flex. Having the ability to lead a full family life while having a flourishing professional life she can excel and grow in. But staying true to her innate personality traits, Kristina shows that she doesn’t want to be the only one to have the chance at having a Flexible Working role.

Bringing Flexible Working to every Industry

Like the rest of the Find Your Flex team, Kristina’s personal career journey lit a fire within her. After seeing firsthand the lack of adaptability of other employers and that the grass is greener on the other side of the Flexible Working hill. Kristina is eager as part of the Find Your Flex team to bring Flexible Working to people. Not only people in her own situation, but to everyone!

Kristina puts it very well in the video below, why should businesses incorporate Flexible Working into all their roles? “It just makes sense.” as she points out; work and life are intertwined. If your employees are happy they will work harder and add bring more value to your company. It is a lot simpler than some businesses make it out to be. And Kristina is a great example of how Flexible Working does work!

In Kristina’s own words:

Thank You Kristina for sharing your insights with us!

If you are inspired by Kristina’s experience, and want to start your own journey towards Flexible Working. You can start by checking out all our live job roles here.

Kristina is an invaluable part of our team. Want to learn about the rest of our team too? And why we are all invested and passionate about making Flexible Working available for everyone? If so you can meet all us here!

Thank you again Kristina for being a force that will one day make Flexible Working available for everyone!