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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.