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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
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... Career Change Careers

A Day In The Life of…Dr Ranj

Time for something new on Find Your Flex. In the weeks and months to come we’re going to be doing some Q&A style articles and videos with people from a variety of different professions so you can get a flavour of what it’s like to work in their chosen field and we’re kicking off with an amazing example. We are delighted to welcome doctor, writer and broadcaster Dr Ranj Singh to FindYourFlex.co.uk.

You will no doubt have seen Dr Ranj on TV. He is the resident doctor on ITV’s This Morning and presented Dr Ranj on Call as well as having a very impressive run on Strictly Come Dancing. Dr Ranj has also just published a superb book for tweenage and teenage boys called How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing.

In this Q&A, Dr Ranj tells us about his work as a paediatric doctor. He also tells us a bit about his book. Do have a read and learn more about his very impressive and diverse career!

Tell us about your latest book?

How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing! is a modern, up-to-date and honest growing-up guide for boys and anyone else that might be interested in the challenges they face. 

It covers everything from how your body and mind changes, to having healthy relationships, to dealing with social media, as well as how to get the most out of every day. We go beyond that to also look at what it actually means to be a boy, exploring ideas around stereotypes, diversity and inclusion. 

Plus you’ll get an insight into the things I went through when I was a kid and what I learned. I want every young person that reads this book to feel like they are not the only one going through puberty. I want them to feel more confident about themselves, and also feel empowered to seek help if they are struggling – something that boys really need right now. I didn’t always have that when I was growing up, and I really wish I did – but we can make sure that people have it now.

What inspired you to write it?

It’s the book I needed when I was growing up! When I wrote it, I always kept asking myself: what did I wish someone had told me?

I wrote this book to educate and empower any young person that picks it up and reads it. I want it to be that companion that you can turn to for reassurance about anything that is happening in your life, but also helps you learn how to deal with it. It’s that friendly, non-judgemental friend who can allay your fears and advise you on how to make things better. I want the reader to feel happier, hopeful and inspired to dream and be better. I made a specific point of putting my own life mantra in it: dream big, work hard and be kind. Those are words I live my own life by and they have helped me immensely, and I hope they’ll help other people too.

I’ve also tried to make it as relevant to as many people as possible. I don’t want anyone to feel like it doesn’t consider, understand or mention them. That’s why we talk about sexuality and identity as well as biology, puberty and everything else. And you’ll see from the amazing illustrations by David O’Connell that there are people of every background, colour and culture in there. This book is for everyone.

Moving on to your life as a doctor, what does a working day look like for a doctor?

Well, a ‘working day’ could be any day of the week, daytime or nighttime. It’s a 24/7 job. I work in Children’s A&E and Intensive Care, so I tend to do shift work. Each shift lasts around 13 hours and every one is different. Some days are steady, and others completely hectic and unpredictable. That’s one of the wonderful things about my job – no two days are the same and it’s never boring!

How do you find a work life balance?

Probably not very well! I’m guilty of not switching off when I should and working late into the evenings. But I always make sure that I have some time to down tools and have fun too. I love my various jobs, both within and outside medicine, and the variety keeps me going. 

What is the best part about your job?

The variety of the work and the people I get to work with. It keeps me busy and interested. I found I’m naturally suited to flexible working because it means I get to do different things. I feel very lucky to be able to do so. There is an inherent lack of security in that sometimes, but I’m the kind of person that likes to try out different things and go with what works. It’s going OK so far!

Is there a difficult part to your job?

Working in hospital can sometimes be difficult because of the long hours and also the nature of the stuff you’re dealing with. So you have to be both physically and emotionally resilient. My media work can be unpredictable and quite demanding, so that needs a lot of energy and attention too.

So overall, I guess the hardest part is remembering to allow yourself time to rest and recover. Sometimes I have to tell myself that taking a break is just as important as doing something – because it’s in those spaces that you get a chance to reflect, recover and refocus.

If someone was considering a career in medicine, what advice would you give to them?

I would say aim for the stars. No matter who you are or where you are from, go for the best that you can be, without fear. You can deal with the challenges as they come along, but there is no reason why you can’t dream and strive for those goals.

The first thing I can remember is wanting to be an astronaut. No idea why… I guess it just seemed like a cool job. Then I wanted to be a teacher, but soon changed my mind when I saw how hard teachers have to work! Eventually I settled on wanting to become a doctor. I realised that I loved science, had a fascination with how things worked and really wanted to help others. So medicine seemed like a logical choice. 

But I was never really that academic and I didn’t think I could make it. And I didn’t know any doctors so didn’t have any idea of what it entailed. Fortunately, we were very good friends with our local pharmacist who advised me to just aim as high as I could and see what happened. He was absolutely right, and that’s a piece of advice I’ve carried with me throughout my career. Just give it your best shot – no matter where you end up, you’ll be in a better place than where you started.

Oh, and always remember, nothing good ever comes easy… so be prepared to put the work in!

Lots of youngsters will be stressing about GCSE and A-level assessments. What advice would you give to mums and dads to help their children cope?

The thing to remember is that these young people aren’t just dealing with exam stress. They’re trying to figure out growing up too! As adults we can forget what it feels like to be a young teen and we need to try and throw ourselves back to the feelings we experienced. That’s easier said than done though, and the best advice I can give any parent is to create an atmosphere where your children can talk about their stress and anxiety if they need to. Try and answer their questions and above all else, support them. Anything you can do to encourage them to take healthy breaks from revision is important too – no one performs at their best if they’re exhausted.

Growing up is such a confusing time for young people and even more so after the year we’ve just had. Trying to put yourself in their shoes is really helpful, which is why I think it’s really worthwhile for parents to read my book themselves – it will help them understand and empathise with their kids and what they’re feeling.

Finally, where can readers get a copy of How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing? 

How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing! is available from all good bookshops and online here.

Thank you to Dr Ranj for being the first to contribute to our ‘A Day In The Life Of…’ series.

You may also be interested in checking out our rough guide to roles in health and social care, the opportunities really are endless in this sector.

Categories
Career Change Careers Flexible Working

Finding Your Passion: Working part-time in Health & Social Care

In the past fourteen months since we first heard of the words ‘Covid 19’, we’ve all been searching for more meaning in our lives.

Some have found it in sourdough & Joe Wicks whilst others are frantically looking for new careers.

Like so many of you reading this, Find your Flex hope that through collective action, we can all play a role in helping the world undergo the much needed ‘Great Reset’:

(https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/covid19-great-reset-gita-gopinath-jennifer-morgan-sharan-burrow-climate/).

The world of work is on the brink of huge change and finding your passion is now within touching distance.

One (if not the sole) positive of the pandemic is that it’s brought flexibility within the workplace, to the fore (thanks Covid!).

It’s also forced us to reanalyse what our real career values are, what our purpose in life is or should be and to also question –

Are we living authentically?

Do we ‘love’ the job we currently do? Is the love enoughto be dedicating most of our working lives to it?

Does your job bring you enough happiness or make you feel content? 

Luckily for anyone still trying to understand what their true passion or calling is– the rise of the portfolio career is becoming the new norm: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zktbn9q.

The days of working in the same career or company all of your life before being rewarded with a carriage clock, are fading for most of us.

If you’ve been considering your next move but aren’t quite sure how to execute it – we might be able to help.

If you’ve always felt a pull towards working within an industry where caring for others and building meaningful relationships – is on the important list, then there’s never been a better time to get experience within health & social care. You can get flexible work experience that pays and you can fit around your life, exactly as you need too.

The Health & Social Care industry is one we feel passionate about at Find your Flex.

It’s an industry you’ll always have a job in, you won’t be replaced by a robot and you always have the opportunity to work as flexibly as you need.

While it’s been a sector cast in a negative light for decades, we want to do ‘our bit’ to shine a light on all the positive & immensely rewarding work that happens day in and day out.

If you’re searching for flexible work and a job with more meaning, becoming a Support Worker could be the experience you need to begin transforming your life for the better.

Considering a career in Health and Social Care but not sure if you have the right skills?

Here’s are the scenarios it could help you with:

Maybe you’ve been curious about working with elderly people ever since you watched your Grandparent (s) experience the Care System?

Or perhaps you’ve had a hunch you’d find helping young and older adults living with mental or physical disabilitieshugely rewarding?

Have a listen to these podcasts:

Hear are some really inspiring stories about what motivates so many to work in the Health and Social Care industry (and try to not be moved or cry):

Working as a Support Worker on either a part-time or ‘Bank Staff’ basis, will give you the chance to see and feel, what a career in health and social care is like in reality. Not just through our preconceived lens.

And if the role of Support Worker doesn’t feel quite right but you develop a love for the sector, there are many ways your employers can help and support you in establishing which area of the sector you are most suited too: https://careers.cygnethealth.co.uk/learning-at-cygnet/

Considering retraining into Counselling, Therapy, Psychology, Nursing or Psychotherapy?

Perhaps you need to do some academic training over the next two to four years in order to start this new role?

If you’re about to enrol onto a part-time Btech, Diploma, Degree or MA; this could be the part-time income you need to facilitate a period of retraining.

Working part-time or as bank staff is a brilliant way to see if you have the skills you need to work with a diverse range of people with diverse conditions.

While you study to gain the academic foundation required, you could also develop your people skills, listening skills and empathy. And make some money.

Working part-time as a Support Worker usually requires a minimum of two 12 hour shifts per week.

That equates to £223.20 per week so £892.80 per month. Bank Staff are expected to do just one twelve-hour shift per week, £111 per week and £446 per month.

Rather than take a part-time job in retail or hospitality to make ends meet while you study, this could provide you with something truly rewarding.

You want to live a more nomadic lifestyle? A career in Health and Social Care could be the solution

We know remote working will become ‘normalised’ over the coming years.

Flexible office space and collaboration venues are popping up all over the country (YEY!).

If you think you’ve got a book within you, or a desire to run your own business; working as a Support Worker can provide you with a regular and steady income to balance your passion projects.

Care work also teaches you an awful lot about life and the psychology of people. An untapped source of inspiration if you ask me.

I’ve also heard that if you work your hours right in part-time vacancies (which entitle you to holiday pay), many staff take a full month or two off every year to do extended holidays.

Imagine sitting on a Greek island and writing that novel or self-help book with your face in the sun?

Want to break out of the Corporate shackles?

If you’re about to return to work after a career break or perhaps have fallen out of love with the corporate world. Working with the more vulnerable in society could be just what you need.

You’ll understand what it means to feel truly valued. Knowing your contribution helps the wellbeing of others, every single day.

The organisations that have struggled to meet the well-reported increased demand in this sector are at the point where they recognise fundamental changes are needed ASAP.

https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/life-sciences-and-healthcare/articles/global-health-care-sector-outlook.html

Digital innovation and a desire to change are happening. The next phase is acceleration.

If you want to be part of meaningful change, this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

We work with a number of health and social care organisations at Find your Flex.

We’re currently in partnership with Cygnet Healthcare who are doing a lot of brilliant and innovative work in this space.

Cygnet offer constant paths for career progression to any of their staff who want it. They offer a list of staff benefits longer than my COVID roots (very long).

Have a look at all their current vacancies– https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/clients/cygnet-healthcare

If any of this has sparked your interest and you’d like to talk to one of our Careers Coaches – you can meet our Team here: https://findyourflex.co.uk/coaching/

They’re happy to offer an initial 20minute FOC consultation to establish whether you’d benefit from their coaching framework.

If you decide to work together, hourly rates apply. But they offer a 10% discount for anyone considering a career in H&SC. Find Your Passion and purpose in life– it’s honestly there for the taking!

Categories
Career Change Careers Interviews And CV's

Career Wheel

Assessing and Handling Your Strengths and Weaknesses

When seeking a new job or trying to progress in a chosen path, there are so many aspects to consider. Many people understandably feel overwhelmed. A multitude of matters demand attention but you may experience trouble in categorising them, prioritising them and tackling them optimally. The career wheel is an effective technique to assist with these concerns.

Fill In The Wheel

Print off a copy of the large wheel shown. Identify the 8 most important features of your job search or career progression. 

For example, you might select any of the following – check online recruitment noticeboards, research employers’ websites, rewrite CV and improve presentation skills. 

You may also opt for increasing confidence, interview tips, sourcing childcare, organising finances, expanding a network of contacts, or even buying appropriate business attire. 

Write these on the edge of the wheel with each feature taking up one segment.

Rate yourself out of 10 on each one. How well are you doing at the moment? Be honest but also be fair to yourself.  

Place a dot on each score in each segment in the 1-10 line. Join these dots together in the manner shown in the small diagram.

What Shape Are You In?

Is your wheel a large, clean circle or does it look more like the uneven, bumpy ride shown in the small diagram? Whatever the outcome, you can immediately see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Take A Balanced View

Avoid the mistake of concentrating solely on the “lowness” of some scores, which can lead into a downward spiral of negativity. Instead, look at each ranking, whatever it may be, and give yourself credit for what you have achieved by this stage in your career. Assigning due notice to your positive attributes and your journey so far is vital both in terms of creating a realistic skills audit and in engendering an upbeat perception of yourself.

Ordering Your Needs

The next issue to be determined is the order in which you confront each segment. There are various strategies that you can adopt to help you decide.

  • What is the lowest score? – usually the weakest point attracts immediate attention and you may feel this needs to be managed in a timely manner.

  • Which would be the easiest to implement? – if buying business clothing is a necessity, you may opt for this as it is relatively straightforward to achieve (compared to working on aspects of your character). Do not underestimate the power of quick wins in building confidence.

  • What would have the biggest impact? – if presentation skills are going to make or break your chances, you may wish to enhance these even if you already have a reasonably good score in this respect.

  • What appeals most? – if you have similar scores and nothing stands out, choose what you might enjoy most in developing. This way you can build your motivation.

  • Which is the most cost effective? – resources are finite and improvement may be most helpful when undertaken in an economically conscious manner.

Action Plan

Assessment is of limited value without a plan of action to back it up. For example, assume that you decide to focus on updating your skills. Perhaps, in the past, this was a sticking point when it came to landing the right job. You might come up with the following solutions.

  1. Research what skills prospective employers in a particular market require.
  2. Read a book on how to obtain these skills.
  3. Access free information and pointers on the internet relying on reputable sources.
  4. Take a course.
  5. Join a professional organisation which offers industry accreditation.

Rank how far up the segment scale each option will take you. If one alternative improves you from 2 to 3, but another promotes you from 2 to 4, you have pinpointed what to prioritise. Time and money are scarce commodities, so use them wisely.

Ditch Perfection, Pitch For Progress

Be careful not to be despondent if you do not attain a very high score in every area, even after making significant alterations. The key is to make progress incrementally. As all of us are a work in progress and learning is a lifelong endeavour, aiming for a string of 10s is simply unrealistic. 

If you look at Olympic diving and gymnastics competitions, gold medals are handed out to universal acclaim for scores of less than a perfect 10. Bearing this parallel in mind, do not be too harsh on yourself. A rank of 8 may well be good enough for your purposes. 

What is top-notch, however, is that your own personal career wheel is an ideal tool to highlight talents and opportunities. Use it to roll on to the success you deserve.

Career Wheel, scaled 1 - 10
The Career Wheel
Categories
Career Change Careers Interviews And CV's

CV Clinic: 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Words

Your Guide To CV Writing

CVs can come in waves, clogging up in-boxes. Busy professionals, with a burgeoning schedule of other things to do, have just enough time to skim through them. You have a window of opportunity, perhaps seconds, to present yourself to full advantage and catch an employer’s eye. Your word selection can either tank your application without a trace or fast forward you to the interview stage.

Follow These 10 Tips To Get Your CV Noticed For All The Best Reasons. 

  • What not to write – do not put “curriculum vitae” at the top of your CV, as it should be obvious what the document is. Instead write your name as the header which is the first thing the reader should alight upon. Avoid irrelevant information such as your marital status and date of birth. There are legal protections against discrimination, so an employer is not required to be privy to certain types of personal data.
  • Me, myself and I – there is no need to keep repeating “I”, as it can be cumbersome. It is, after all your CV and the sense should be clear from the context. Fast forward to your accomplishments by skipping over redundant words.

x I created a new distribution system

Created a new distribution system

  • Say it, spell it – some words sound the same but are spelt differently. As this is not always picked up by computers, be vigilant and proofread your CV carefully. Even minor slip-ups can suggest a lack of attention to detail and damage credibility. 

x Principle lead for there projects

Principal lead for their projects

When your CV is up to scratch, print it out. It is easier to pick up on spelling and grammatical errors in hard copy than on a screen.

  • Cut out superfluous words – as Thomas Jefferson said, “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words where one will do.” Avoid verbose phrases and stick to simplicity.

x Undertook the implementation of

Implemented 

x Achieved the completion of

Completed 

  • Generic v specific – ditch sentences that could be applicable to anybody in any situation. These have limited appeal. Instead cite examples which differentiate you from your competitors and which showcase transferable talents relevant to a prospective employer. It is important also not merely to state your general duties but what you impact you had.

x Enthusiastic about knowledge transfer

Established monthly training sessions to give updates on market developments 

x Responsible for personnel development

Mentored junior colleagues to achieve industry accreditations

  • Jargon busting – unless writing for someone who understands sector-specific language, beware of abbreviations and acronyms. They are confusing and few have the patience to work out what a jumble of letters might signify. Your task is to provide a smooth read, not a guessing game.

x Member of ACEVO

Member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations 

  • Active verbs – highlight what you actually did by using engaging verbs which suggest a dynamic rather than a passive or marginal contribution. 

x Attended a product launch

Demonstrated a product at its launch and handled all customer queries 

x Helped with the marketing strategy

Created a digital marketing platform

  • Add it up – some buzzwords are so over-used as to be meaningless and can become wearisome to read. But figures turn your expertise into concrete, memorable facts rather than vague, forgettable assertions. Quantify your success.

x Passionate about achieving cost savings

Achieved cost savings of 25%

x Gained experience in people management

10 years managing a team of 12 employees

  • Easy reading – avoid the temptation to cram more into your CV (the standard format is two A4 pages) by reducing the size and type of font. If a recruiter is left squinting, it’s game over. Opt for Arial or Times New Roman in font size 12. 

Your CV also benefits from white space, headings and bullet point lists in order to be user-friendly. The solution is in changing your words, not your layout. Consider different phrase formulations until you hit the most succinct one. A thesaurus is a helpful tool in this regard as it can suggest a range of suitable words.    

  • Made to measure – whilst you may have an all-purpose CV, attract more interest by tailoring it for each employer. What exactly does the job ad specify and how can you respond convincingly with words that resonate in this particular situation? Bespoke clothes feel special. So do bespoke CVs.

A smart move is to read your CV aloud, either to yourself or to a trusted person who can give practical feedback. Is your text punchy? Are you precise enough about your results? How do you come across? Edit and edit again. With the appropriate word choice, you can do justice to yourself and your talents – and be several steps closer to the job that you want.

With thanks to Rob Ashton of Emphasis Training, a consultancy specialising in business writing and communication –  www.writing-skills.com

Looking for more CV writing tips… How To Approach CV writing After A Career Break.

Categories
Career Change Careers

The Secret To A Successful Career Change

Guest Author – Leila Singh

Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™

Anything is possible!

If you had been with me during the summer of the year 2000, you would have seen me sitting at my desk in a large open-plan office, writing out a pros and cons list of what I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy in my job, had a great manager and a good salary. And I had studied hard to gain my professional qualifications. Yet, I felt that I wanted more. Something was missing. Having carried out my due diligence, a couple of months later, you would find me sitting in a large meeting room, the goldfish bowl as we called it, because everyone could see in through the expanse of glass. Opposite me sat my manager, Peter.

“Recruitment??? But you have spent years working towards your accountancy career, and you are good at what you do, why would you throw that all away? Is it the money?”

“Not at all, in fact I am taking a 50% pay cut to do this…and I know it will work out…after all, what is the worst that can happen?”

A year or so later, sitting across from my Sales Director Steve, for my annual review, “Leila we took a risk on you, you had no relevant experience, and yet you have been our highest biller this year!”

Prior to this, I was the quiet diligent church mouse, who kept my head down and worked really hard; it was a manager during that time who had shared his advice “Leila, if you want to achieve your career aspirations, you need to make yourself known, so people that matter know who you are and what you do, and recognise your talents…”

I spent two years in recruitment – that time afforded me exponential personal and professional growth. It highlighted that 1) taking a risk and 2) taking myself so far outside my comfort zone, enabled me to realise what is possible, as well as my potential, strengths, and to cultivate the confidence and self-belief I had never had.

Following redundancy, I was offered an opportunity in a global technology firm; I jumped at it, as the company had a great reputation. The role? Nothing I had ever done before. Corporate Finance; designing and implementing change, negotiating multi-$M contracts with investment banks and lenders, as well as establishing and managing a significant financing portfolio across the EMEA region. My confidence, desire to win, willingness to take risks, ask questions and learn fast, held me in good stead. I built a strong network across the business and was influential in achieving results.

After six years, we were acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), where I was offered two opportunities; A Sales Executive or a Treasury Consultant role. I opted for the latter, as this complemented the previous role and enhanced my skills further. After 15 months, I transitioned to the Sales Executive role. During my tenure in this role of almost 10 years, I delivered a little shy of $1bn of business.

The Secret To Successful Career Changes.

You may be asking, what is my secret to successfully transitioning through different careers?

It comprises the following.

  • Believing that I can achieve anything I put my mind to (someone once told me this, and it is so true).
  • Going over and above in my delivery and performance at all levels, be that internal or external clients,
  • Being resilient to the challenges I encountered and never giving up.
  • Not being afraid to ask questions, whilst being a quick learner.
  • Building strong professional relationships, whilst showing up authentically and showing a genuine interest in others.
  • My desire to stand out and make a difference, and be a role model for others.
  • Maintaining high standards consistently in all that I do

And today?

I am the Founder and CEO of my own business, where I coach, mentor and train ambitious career professionals to accelerate their career, through establishing their personal brand, resulting in greater visibility, impact, and performance.

Six years earlier, whilst still a sales executive, working no less than 60 hours a week, I began to immerse myself even further into my personal growth journey; I trained and qualified as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy. I went on to join a Professional Speakers Academy to refine my speaking and presentation skills; an academy for which I now mentor others. I became an Accredited Master Coach as well as an L&D Trainer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (yes, this was also alongside my job). I wrote and published my book, Success Redefined – How to Leverage Your Natural Talents to be Limitless” in 2015. I also did a board break with my hand, walked on hot coals and on broken glass. I attended various events and training sessions with Anthony Robbins. I invested heavily in myself – money, time, and energy, surrounding myself with the best coaches and mentors, to continue to learn and grow and to be able to show up for my clients as the best version of myself.

I chose to leave HPE at the end of 2018 and embark on this next chapter of my life. Yes it has been challenging, leaving behind my corporate identity, the structure, the salary and the corporate benefits of a large organisation, to live in a world of uncertainty, and yet it is a life of freedom, choice, risks, celebrations and massive personal growth.

Embracing A Growth Mindset.

Growth never stops; this is one of my core values, alongside [personal] leadership and authenticity. And I am proud to say that my biggest accomplishment to date is becoming a TEDx Speaker in 2019.

If you are thinking, “I want change, but…” consider this;

1. When I went through my first career transition, from accountant to recruitment consultant, having just given notice, within a matter of days, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and as a consequence, overnight had become paralysed from the waist down. What should I do? I could have very easily chosen to stay in the finance role, something that I knew and was settled in. Yet I went ahead with the transition, whilst for the first several months, supporting my mother in adapting to her newfound restricted and tragic situation, dealing with the emotions of the situation, and being her primary carer alongside my father.

2. On the same day my mother was diagnosed, I was due to move out of home, having purchased my first place, having simultaneously agreed to taking a 50% pay cut…I believed it would work itself out – and it did.

3. I spent sixteen years of my career in the technology sector, as a woman of colour, in a male dominated environment. I did not experience imposter syndrome, nor feel that I was treated differently from my colleagues.

Why? Because my focus was on me, my desire to stand out for the right reasons, over-performing, and consistently maintaining high professional standards.

What would I say are the key ingredients needed for a successful career transition?

ABC: Attitude, Belief and Commitment (I might add: Consistency, Diligence and EQ 

Leila Singh

Leila Singh FCCA is an Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™

You can learn more about Leila at www.leilasingh.com and connect with her on Linkedin.

Thank you to Leila for providing us with an in depth view of her career decisions and changes. Very inspirational.

If you liked this post then you may also like this post from guest author Didier Penine – ‘Going Self Employed’.

Look out for future blogs and tips for navigating a career change.

Categories
Career Change Careers

Going Self Employed

By Didier Penine

Which Career?

For as long as I can remember I have never had a clear idea of the career I wanted, and this was reflected in my university degree as I chose the subject I was best at which was French due to my background. During my degree I realised I needed something to go with my degree so I did a postgraduate in business management to give me further options.

I found a graduate program with an electrical wholesaler, I was there for a good 10 years and earned a few promotions until I was in a head office role negotiating rebates and sales worth large sums and on paper it looked a good position. Throughout my time there I had a niggly feeling that it wasn’t right for me, and I put it down to not pursuing a career that related to my interests.

A Change Of Career

Through redeveloping my own home I gained a strong interest in buildings, and I decided that changing careers had to be done to pursue a career in construction. Having done a great deal of research I decided that Quantity Surveying would be the idea role and duly did my distance learning and gained a first class degree from the College of Estate Management.

Within a month of being there, that feeling of dissatisfaction was there again, and it quickly grew to a level greater than I had ever experienced. The people around me were incredibly helpful and supportive and really nice people, however my dissatisfaction was mounting on a daily basis and I could so no escape. This caused great mental anguish as I had spent a considerable amount of time and money to be in the position that I wanted, yet I felt trapped and was unhappier than I had ever felt before. The realisation then dawned on that I needed to be self-employed.

My first roles after graduated offered a certain amount of freedom as they were largely sales/managerial type roles. Quantity surveying was quite the opposite, I found it very restrictive, very constrained and every part of the role was bound by procedure and regulations which stifled my natural desire to do my own thing.

Going Self Employed

For a good 12 years or so I had kept toying with the idea of being self-employed, I had considered being a property developer, however I was apprehensive about the cash required to set up the businesses, plus my property skills weren’t quite there. My other thought was to set up a personalised Champagne business – clearly this quite niche but there is some logic to my desire, My family produce Champagne in Festigny, France and when I got married my dad brought over about 30 bottles of wedding themed Champagne themed around our big day, and as soon as I saw them it was kind of a lightbulb moment, I was instantly drawn to setting up a personalised Champagne business.

As much as I wanted to set up the business, I was apprehensive about quitting a guaranteed salary for doing so. I considered the Champagne business when applying for the construction distance learning but opted for the Quantity Surveying being the safer option. It was when I felt despondent in my quantity surveying career that I realised I had to go for it, and piece by piece I began putting it all together.

This was quite daunting of course as I had no contacts or even any experience in the industry in the UK. Apart from having a family that produces Champagne I was going into it totally cold, however I felt certain there was merit in the idea and that is how Say It With Champers was born. The business is now a year old and we cater for both businesses and the general public, and in terms of job satisfaction I have never been happier than I am currently. Being a startup I earn far less than I did before, luckily the loss-making months are behind me and I can focus on growing and developing the business.

A Career Change Can Be Full Of Hurdles

With hindsight I probably didn’t appreciate how long it takes to build a new business up, the hours I have worked have been much more than previous roles, and in the early days I would be doing crazy hours months only to earn a loss, which of course made me question my decision. I kept at it and a few strokes of luck came my way, now I have confidence that the business will succeed, but of course it was a risk. The definition of whether it has been a success or not would depend on the point of view. In purely financial terms then it hasn’t as the amount earned this year will be much less than previous years. For the future however I believe there is great potential, everyone in the country has birthdays, many people celebrate mother’s/father’s day, anniversaries, weddings and so on. We are also providing mini Prosecco which is perfect as wedding favours and so on.

For the corporate side I have made some great customers with football clubs and gold clubs, and of course it takes time to build things up. You carry on doing the things that work, and stop doing the things that don’t, learning by trial and error is part of the process unfortunately. I feel very optimistic about the future and I have never been happier, so to my the change has been a success, I think with any business you need to give it time and not expect it to be an overnight success.

“Changing careers is a very daunting thing to do…”

Changing careers is a very daunting thing to do, for me I really hated going to work, and when I made the decision I was 35 with another 30 years work ahead of me. I just couldn’t face the prospect of wishing away every day and hoping for the weekend for the remainder of my working career. With any of these decisions you need to be able to have the financial means to pay for the degree, potential loss of earnings (as you may be starting at the bottom of the ladder again). For those who are looking to start a business, this of course has even greater risk, in reality you have to almost write off a year without a salary, and if you can afford that plus the cost of setting the business up, then it may well be an option worth taking.

Didier penine from say it with champers

It all comes down to personality and the choices you have made in your teenage years. Your A level choices will influence your degree choice, which in turn necessarily influence your choice of career. People will often find themselves stumbling into a career that may not necessarily suit them, and of course every year that goes past, the harder it feels to take the plunge and change careers. Many people I knew were dissatisfied with the jobs and careers, and in my experience this became more pronounced when people hit their 30’s.

A change can be a good thing, a lot depends on your individual circumstance such as personality, finances and so on. Granted not every career change will be a success as I experienced myself, however it can be very rewarding for some. 

In my opinion if you are thinking about changing careers to another industry, then go for it – the risk is relatively low and as long as you leave on good terms you will likely be able to go back to your old organisation or industry if it wasn’t. Changing careers to start a business needs more thought, a clear plan and a solid financial footing are imperative if this is being considered.

Thank you to Didier for providing us with a detailed journey through his career decisions.

If you are considering a career change then you may be find this blog interesting too: ‘The Secret To A Successful Career Change’ .

Also look out for future posts on tips and resources to help you navigate a career change or pivot.