Category Archives: Career Coaching Brussels

3 reasons recruiters don’t respond to unsolicited CVs

Part of any job search strategy should involve starting a dialogue with recruiters, particularly those focused on your function or sector. But there is much comment on LinkedIn around the deep frustration about the lack of engagement from those involved in the recruitment process. This would include recruitment and executive search consultants as well as in-house recruiters. The main complaint is that they don’t respond to unsolicited CVs or even calls and job seekers feel as all their efforts are sucked into a big black hole.

Many organisations, if they have sophisticated ATS, could easily set up an automated response system acknowledging receipt of unsolicited CVs. If that isn’t happening I don’t understand why.  But even that would not appease some people, who see this lack of engagement as “inhumane” treatment. Although some recruiters are lazy, most aren’t, and there are valid reasons why you don’t hear from them.

Here are 3 reasons why recruiters don’t respond to unsolicited CVs

#1 Lack of time

I receive between 10 and 20 unsolicited CVs a week. Compared to large organisations that number will be minimal. You can see below a typical message following the acceptance of a LinkedIn request and the receipt of a resume in my in box. Bear in mind this is from someone with whom I have no prior relationship.

I’d appreciate if you could suggest contact or vacancies where they look for people with my professional profile and experience.

To be thorough, I or one of my team, would need to examine this person’s LinkedIn profile and CV and then run a search for potential target companies based on any obvious key words. If there are any. Frequently there aren’t. The estimated time for this exercise would be about 30 minutes to do a proper job. Multiply this by even 10 and we are looking at more than half a day a week. This is something a job seeker should do themselves. If they don’t know how they should seek out help from a career coach. If funds are limited, there are lots of free online resources to support them.

Job seekers should realise that just by being a first level connection to a recruiter or hiring manager, provided that your LinkedIn profile is complete and has a good sprinkling of key words in line with your goals, then our researchers will find you when you appear in our LinkedIn searches.

Recruiters are not always career coaches. It happens that I am. But then a request has to be made for career coaching.

#2 Bad timing 

unsolicited CVs

It sometimes happens that unsolicited CVs land on a recruiters’ desk’ at exactly the right time and serendipity kicks in. Your background and experience are in perfect sync, or even near enough with an ongoing assignment. For the rest of the time most unsolicited CVs and cover letters are generic and don’t specifically state your value proposition as it links to a particular opening and why you stand out from any other candidates. This puts you at an immediate disadvantage. Recruiters work for, and are paid, by their clients and that is the first point of misunderstanding.  Most won’t interview candidates who send in unsolicited CVs, unless you have the type of experience that they regularly place. They will also be more inclined to engage if you have a hard-to-find skill set, are very senior (C-level,) can provide market intel, or can help generate future business for their organisation (senior HR professional.)

If you don’t fall into those categories your chances are slim to maybe even zero.

#3 You wait until you are desperate 

Most people don’t have an ongoing career management strategy and then try to make contact with recruiters when they have an urgent need. This is not the best way to go about things. If you are smart, you will build up your network connections before you are desperate. Any relationship is reciprocal, so I am always surprised when potential candidates don’t seize the opportunity to engage with recruiters either at all, or correctly, when they are ever approached. If you are not getting calls from anyone in the hiring process it will be because your profile isn’t visible enough.

It is rare for a recruiter to meet a candidate if they don’t they have an active assignment, unless as stated previously your profile is “special,” and most aren’t. If you are have been successfully placed by a recruiter or head hunter, make sure you stay in touch with them  – a thank you note and an onboarding update is all it takes. If you don’t go forward in any search or the match isn’t right, send a snippet of market information that might be helpful in the future, or an article that might be of interest. There are also other ways to connect via social media: LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages or Twitter. It’s basically about keeping a relationship alive and it’s easier now than it ever was.

This post is an explanation of why certain things happen in the hiring process. It’s  definitely not about a lack of humanity on the part of the recruiter.  If you have any other ideas  – let me know!

If your organisation is looking for professional executive search and candidate identification services that go above and beyond   – contact us NOW.  

 

 

traffic light coaching

Try traffic light coaching for 2018

Today we will be inundated with posts about goal setting and New year’s resolutions. It’s well recorded that I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions especially when it comes to career goals. “In one year and out the next” is pretty accurate way to describe the process. I’ve long favoured manageable, achievable goals which spur us on to more challenging things. One way to avoid that is via the traffic light coaching exercise. This is a great drill and can be used for personal assessment or even for your team. It’s simple and easy to apply with exactly the same principles as the highway code.

Any goals should be ongoing and not just made at a random time of the year because everyone else is on the bandwagon. And more than once a year at that. Most New Year’s resolutions fizzle out almost as fast as the New Year bubbly, which is why gyms are rammed in January and only half full in March. What I do encourage anyone as part of their regular career management exercises is to review their year retrospectively. I’ve even read that a goal isn’t a goal unless it’s painful. To be effective, goals need to be chosen wisely and pursued systematically and consistently, rather than with a flurry of enthusiasm in January. This is not to be confused with challenge or discomfort. If your language is peppered with “Stop, no more, lose, reduce, limit, fix” you are probably setting yourself up for sure failure. Having goals isn’t about being a suffering martyr!

This is why the traffic light coaching exercise works. It incorporates what you already do well and gives you a factual base on which to make a plan.

Traffic light coaching

 

Green light 

I like to start with green and positive affirmation of achievements during the past year.  I’ve found no one gets very far if they begin by berating themselves for things that didn’t go to plan and putting themselves down. it’s also more fun. The green light in all traffic systems everywhere is a signal to go and move forward.  We even use it on an everyday level. if someone has a “green light.”  it tells is that they have the go-ahead. Inbuilt into this phrase, is the assumption that it is safe to do so. It means that we have taken all the necessary precautions or carried out a risk evaluation before we shift gears. It assumes that we have paid attention to any potential warnings: parked cars, pedestrians, and any other hazards such as bad drivers – not you of course.

The same is true for your career. Look at what you have done well in 2017, and which actions  have helped you reach your goals. It means being observant and mindful of your successes and analysing how they happened and how those methods can be applied in the up coming year. It’s about owning and articulating your accomplishments and valuing your transferable skills. You would be surprised how many people struggle with this process. Congratulate and reward yourself for a job well done.  It’s popular to say there’s no “I” in team  – but there is an “i” in fired. We are all accountable and responsible for reaching our goals and objectives.

Amber light

An amber light is the signal to slow down.  It’s time to listen to those around you, to be present in what you are doing and understanding the more nuanced areas of your performance in your job and even your life. What do you do that produces inconsistent results  – sometime good, sometimes less great? Why is that? Evaluate your activities strategically. You might have identified that you are a great networker but there comes a point where you have reached diminishing returns. Can your time and investment be better deployed elsewhere?  Examine what are you doing less well and work out a plan to improve. Create a personal development plan for the upcoming year. Research options and formulate a budget. Even though some organisations are cutting back on training, many are willing to invest in competence coaching for employees. Career coaching is also frequently funded by organisations. Perhaps this is the time to look for a mentor, someone who can give you neutral feedback.

Red light

This makes us look at what we need to stop doing and to be realistic about why something didn’t go as planned. It’s a time to examine habits we may have fallen into, and own the ones that are counter-productive. It might be spending too much time on social media or being too detail focused or not paying enough attention to the small things that matter. It can be about your communication style. Ask your team or peers for feedback. What do they think your red light areas are? Take a look at your relationships – are there any that have become toxic? The approach is to focus on positive actions and not negative ones.

Traffic light coaching make helps you carry out an analysis of the key elements of your professional life and makes it easier to see the bigger picture. The process is about understanding the present, making an evaluation, opening your mind to new ideas and commiting to change. Then making that change happen. Maybe you’ve out grown your job and need to move on. Perhaps your organisation is great, but you need a bigger challenge.

So instead of agonising over possibly unrealistic resolutions and beating yourself up for not following through, try this simple traffic light coaching exercise and see how you get on.

 

Need career coaching support – contact me.   

boreout

How to lose the disengaged employee tag

Employee engagement – or rather the lack of it, has been a hot HR topic for many years. Research from Deloitte indicates that the issues of “retention and engagement” have risen to No. 2 spot on the business agenda, “second only to the challenge of building global leadership.” This is rooted in compelling indications that a very high percentage of members of the workforce (as many as 66% ) would describe themselves as a disengaged employee.

It makes sense that organizations need to fine tune their career progression opportunities to attract top talent. It also means that with literally millions of employees potentially open to a move, candidates face stiffer competition to position themselves as an ideal hire when looking externally.  Employers frequently complain about difficulties finding the right kind of talent. In a recent survey Glassdoor suggests that 76% of organisations fail to find the right talent. So that must be you.

What can you do to shrug off the disengaged employee moniker if your current career progression has stalled and present yourself differently?

The job you have

Let’s kick off with the obvious. The job you are in is the one you have for the moment. Very often demotivated employees takes their foot off the career progression pedal. They check-out and do the bare minimum to coast by. It’s hard to convince any potential hiring manager who is looking for agile and dynamic talent that you will meet their criteria if you are stuck in your current role and above all look and act stuck. Anyone who is looking to boost their career needs to take charge of their personal development. This involves know-how, time and energy. For starters you need to ditch the disengaged employee tag.

How to lose the disengaged employee tag

Create a plan 

The first step is to have goals and a strategy. Those who leave things to chance and expect and organization to take care of them are the ones that come unstuck first. Communicate those ambitions to your manager. Do  a realistic assessment of your own performance. If anything needs addressing  – do just that.

Raise your visibility  

It’s important that people know who you are and you are perceived to be pro-active. Instead of whining about lack of opportunities create solutions and make yourself part of that initiative, showcasing how you can add value to the business. Participate in meetings and be willing to take on new challenges.

Up your game

Now is the time to do more, or at least something different, not less. Position yourself for the next role by learning as much about the next steps as possible and the skill set required.

Show flexibility

A disengaged employee tends to be stuck in a rut and gets caught up in old and frequently bad habits and work practices.  This can be accompanied by a negative attutude. Now is the time to be flexible and be willing to take on continuous learning and personal development, even if it means investing in yourself. You may have been in the same role for years but show you have updated your skills. Add these to your LinkedIn profile so other people can also see what you’ve been up to.

Test the market

A disengaged employee whose career progression has stalled will struggle to present themselves as the right kind of candidate. Make sure you maintain your external networking to stay in touch with developments in your market. You may have set backs but it’s important to build resilience. Stay positive and confident. You might change jobs but if you haven’t looked inwardly to figure out what is holding you back you will merely transport the issues to another location.

If you want to source ideal candidates  contact me now

career transition

9 stages of career transition

Over the years I have coached probably thousands of men and women through career transition. And although each case is always unique, (everyone likes to think they are special) I have observed 9 common stages in the process which each career changer or transformer makes.

1.Detached and dissatisfied 

Most people seek out professional career support when they are desperate or lost. They have usually tried to change jobs on their own and have met obstacles. This can be extremely disheartening and frustrating.  They read my web site and say:

“You wrote that for me! That is exactly where I am”

They are filled with conflicting emotions which can include anxiety about the future or financial issues, concern about lack of status and self-worth and even depression. They might have enjoyed their old jobs at some point and either change has been forced upon them or they have simply fallen out of love with their old profession. This will involve an element of grieving and a lot of chest beating and “what ifs” and “if onlies.”  It can be a very challenging place.

A smaller number focus on change in a strategic and structured way and they usually get stuck in this particular sand trap less frequently. They are happy to consign their old career to the past, but are then caught up in another bind. This group frequently want to disown their previous life and skills. This presents a whole other set of problems.

2. Identity limbo

As we struggle to understand who we are, what is important to us and how we want to add value in the next phase of our careers we can fall into identify limbo. Benchmarks about our achievements may no longer be valid and in some cases we may even reject the values that were once important to us and the people around us. But when we do that we frequently miss the recognition and endorsements we all seek at some level associated with that.

Aaron decided he wanted to leave private legal practice and join an NGO which was more in line with the values he now held. This created a significant gap in income and outlook with his previous colleagues which he described as being

“insurmountable. They just didn’t get the person I’d become. It wasn’t something they could deal with and pretty much dropped me. We were in different places. ”

That happens, but there are new kindred spirits on the horizon.

Read: How to manage your career in times of uncertainty 

3. Confusion

Many people say they “feel all over the place” at this point They seem to have too many choices but at the same time none of them feel totally right. They flounder and become overwhelmed and get bogged down in analysis paralysis and make no headway. They feel insecure and lack confidence. This is the point when most seek professional support. It’s important to hold yourself accountable for decisions and paths taken in the past, without beating yourself up. You can’t change what happened historically.

4. Commitment to the process

Most career changers expect an epiphany or “ah-ha” moment. In reality although that can happen, it rarely does. What usually takes place is through painstaking hard work. If you commit 100% to the career transition process, being open to support and willing to change, a myriad of inter-connecting switches flicker on, causing a slow and gradual internal illumination. Those that don’t commit totally to the process in terms of time and energy will not make the same progress. Getting a job is now your job. Anyone who can’t get into that zone, gets into trouble.

5. Danger zone

Spending time doing the inner work, anchoring strengths, identifying personal development plans and finding and owning their “why” is really key at this point. It’s not uncommon to meet resistance as old habits, inner critics and negative thinking hold career changers back. Backsliding can kick in at this point until complete clarity about goals, vision and action is achieved. I hear a lot of “yes-but,” at this point, which is a massive tell that there is deep-seated resistance. The message here is “yes I want to move forward” but old habits and influences are still getting in the way as clients struggle to let go of what they usually do or did before.

It takes persistence and resilience to get beyond this and can be a danger zone for some. It’s important to work with your coach to get through the fog during this phase of your career transition.

6. Picking up the pace

Emerging from a misty tunnel and making progress is a huge energy booster. It’s common to see a flurry of activity at this point. Plans and strategies are drafted, CVs updated and online profiles professionalized. It’s all systems go! Networking is well underway, job applications in the pipeline and even interviews lined up. Remember to stay focused and on plan.  It’s easy to drift and get sidetracked by online “busyness.”  There is a lot of nonsense around job search and career advice which can be distracting and a big time eater especially on the internet. It’s not uncommon to see a loss of focus after a period of intense activity.

Read: White noise nonsense on job search and recruitment  

7. Cohesion and synergy

As all the different threads seem to come together and fall into place. The potential and possibilities of a new career and maybe even a new life are on the horizon. Success breeds success. The career changer gets a buzz. Success seems on the horizon and within their grasp.

8. Set backs

But….career transformers rarely get the first job they apply for. They are dismayed at the speed of the procedures (slow) and lack of positive response (variable.) Recruiters take time to respond or don’t respond at all. It’s all frustrating. It can take 6-9 months to start a new job. Patience is vital to maintaining sanity. There may be some set backs, perhaps several. It’s important to learn from the experience and be flexible, adapt and dig deep. Every situation even the negative ones, give great feedback, so it’s important not to let it damage your confidence. You have to hang on,  flex the resilience muscles and power through the adversity. It’s only temporary.

9. Score

Finally, after what seemed at times like an impossible journey, goals have been achieved. Dreams have become a reality!  Your new life is about to start!!

If you would like to re-invent your career – contact Dorothy Dalton  

Career advice needs context

Why career advice is meaningless without context

There is no shortage of career advice, with any number of people giving tips on what and not what to do. There is even advice on what career advice to ignore. Everyone has careers, so we all believe we know what everyone else should do. But as with anything, these bumper sticker type homilies are much more nuanced than we ever imagined. Times and workplaces change. Circumstances change. Heaven forbid – you change. These golden tips and nuggets of wisdom need to be revisited and always put into context. Context is everything when it comes to career advice. Without that – any career advice is meaningless.

4 common pieces of career advice without context

#1 You have to follow your passion

This is the most regularly doled out of all career tips. If it was a movie or a song it would get an award. Of course you should all be advised to do something you love and which satisfies you. Otherwise you will be condemned to a life of frustration and misery. But there are some caveats. The first is to be strategic. Do you have the skills or can you acquire them? The next question is will that passion pay the bills? At the age of 14, I was passionate about tennis, but there was no way I could make a living at it. Or had the skills. That is something that very often people misunderstand. I know one woman who was an excellent home cook and passionate about food. But she was unable to turn that passion into something that paid her bills. Some things like my tennis, are best kept as hobbies.

The other thing is that your passion can change over the years. So something that you might be passionate about in your 20s,  can be the source of unremitting boredom in later life.

You can also develop new passions. It’s not inconceivable that you might find two or even more passions in a working life which is extending all the time.

Core advice: maintain a path of life-long learning. Be open to possibilities and be sure to do your inner work regularly. Assess and prioritize your goals.  In our careers we will be passionate about many things at various times. At different stages of our lives we have a range of commitments and constraints. There is nothing wrong with having to defer to those in the short-term. As life goes on compromises are made as we factor other people’s needs into our planning. The question is do you feel compromised? If you do, then it’s time for a re-evaulation. The pace of change is also so great in our workplaces, that we have no idea what jobs will exist in 10 years that we may become passionate about.

Passion isn’t static for most people. It’s misleading to suggest it might be.

Read: Knowing yourself in the beginning of all wisdom 

#2. You should have a dream

Martin Luther King had a dream.  Some athletes, movie-stars, musicians have dreams. Other more regular people also have them. But unless that vision is backed up by a strategy, goals and a plan then it is worthless.  Relate this to your passion. The same criteria apply.

Core advice: See above

#3. There is no substitute for hard work

Actually there is. I prefer the advice to work smart. In an era of 24/7 availability the pressure to work incredibly long hours is high. In some sectors it’s a badge of honour and status symbol, particularly for men.  Burnout, breakdowns and depression are now normal. There are times when hard work is necessary. But it’s not just about the hours clocked  – it’s about the quality of those hours and their strategic value.

A bedfellow to this piece of advice is that you are judged by your work, so you should allow that work “to speak for itself.” That isn’t necessarily true. People tend to be judged by their results and they need to be able to develop a message that people are aware of. Find a mentor or a sponsor to help you share that message. This is a very female trap to wait for recognition. It frequently doesn’t call. We all have poor, lazy colleagues who still manage to do well.

Core advice: work smart and strategically, have a plan. Network effectively, work with a sponsor who will act as your door opener and find balance. Don’t be afraid to communicate your achievements. Done properly, with some humility, it is not bragging.

Read; Overwhelmed by a culture of overwork

#4. Get as many qualifications as you can 

Today with the cost of education sky rocketing and many graduates leaving university to depressed job markets with huge debts, the further education argument is now under discussion. It is no longer the golden conveyor to career success. So the career advice in this area should be tempered. Clearly there are certain professions which require higher education. In medicine, engineering, architecture and so on, minimum academic professional standards are not optional. But a number of organisations are starting to drop the focus on degree qualifications and look at other skills. The accounting firm Ernst and Young says that there is

‘No evidence’ that success at university is linked to achievement in professional assessments”

The World Economic Forum list the following as vital skills in the future of work:  literacy,  numeracy,  financial knowledge, technology, soft skills (see list below)

wef -skills

 Core advice: The workplace is changing at a terrific pace and currently there is a massive disconnect with our education systems. There is no doubt that the value of traditional educational paths is coming under question. I would definitely think long and hard before taking a liberal arts or soft degree and relate that carefully to longer term career projections. This brings us back again to life long learning. No one can afford not to update their skills on an ongoing basis. Failure to do so will be a problem. So you can have as many qualifications as you like, but if they are out of date, or redundant – they are of no value

Success means different things to each of us. The important element is to be clear what it means to you and to check regularly if those factors are consistent and constant. Career advice is not a one of one size fits all. The advice we need, will evolve as we and our circumstances do.

For career advice, context is not just critical, it’s everything.

Make sure you contact me for any career advice and coaching! [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Managing your career in times of uncertainty

How to manage your career in times of uncertainty

My email box has been flooded over the weekend with enquiries from clients asking how “Brexshit” as I call it, will impact them. The answer is noone knows at this point, but eventually some type of calm and compromise will emerge as it always does. Official statements will be made about any impact this will have on the free movement of labour and employee rights. There are unlikely to be any significant changes in the short term. Already some players have made statements to project calm. But there is always collateral damage and it’s important in times of uncertainty to be prepared and in the best position to face whatever may hit us. There can also be opportunity.

Collateral damage 

It is clear that uncertainty and panic damages business confidence which impacts stability. Those two elements feed off each other. This situation may cause hiring and investment freezes, as companies wait for guidance from government departments head offices and even lawyers.

in 2012 I wrote a post called  “Are you ready for a professional emergency landing“. The main criteria are still valid today. It’s all about being prepared and setting up some best practises to cope with any potential emergencies.

Unwelcome change is a hall-mark of our workplaces, whatever the circumstances. We have all seen many excellent people blindsided and ill-equipped to make an emergency landing which causes us to flail around in search of life-vests and oxygen masks.  Under normal circumstances,  this can be because of redundancy, a merger, a take- over or any other unforeseen business circumstance. The fallout from Brexshit had been predicted by most main economic and business experts, but sadly not taken seriously.

So now will be a good time to make sure you are prepared for that emergency professional landing because these times of uncertainty are going to be around for a while. They can be corrosiveand damaging

Here are tips that you can apply immediately while the dust settles:  

  1. Update your online presence and CV: if you do not do this routinely, and keep a copy ready to send off immediately, now is a good time to do that. Start straight away.
  2. Audit your professional skills – it’s important to be current in this area. Many people take their feet off the pedal in terms of professional development , quite often in mid-career and find themselves lacking particularly in relation to newer (read cheaper) employees. It’s important not to become complacent and to view education as an ongoing exercise.  Book a  career audit  Check that you can deliver your elevator soundbites and you have your A game at your finger tips.
  3.  Work on your network – many job seekers tap into their networks only when they have a need, by which time it’s too late.  Strategic networking should be an ongoing effort. Make sure you are doing this now. If you are in a job and don’t think you need to network  – re-examine that thought. Read: Do you have a Go-To Top 10
  4. Pay it forward – the more you can do for other people when you are in a position to do so makes it easier to ask for reciprocation at a critical time.
  5. Monitor your budget –  the last thing Economists want to hear is people being advised not to spend, as this boosts the economy. It’s hard to define in precise terms how long it could take to find another job. You could be lucky – but generally executive searches take about 3-6 months. Today the suggestion is that it can be as much as 9 months. So although it is hard in today’s economic climate, sound advice would be for all of us to have a reserve  “disaster fund“ of a minimum of 6 months to cover critical expenses. One of the most terrifying aspects of job loss is the gnawing anxiety of how to meet fixed overheads.  It’s a good idea to make sure that key financial contact details are in your address book.  How well do you know your bank manager?
  6. Invest in professional support – many individuals seek career support when they are desperate: it might be when they have already lost their jobs or are facing any other sort of career blip. It is important to treat a career with the same strategic analysis as one might any other housekeeping exercise. In the words of John  F. Kennedy “ The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”. 
  7. Look after you –  It’s normal to worry about your family and your ability to support your nearest and dearest.  But just as a cabin attendant will exhort  passengers to put on their own life jackets and oxygen masks first and then look after their dependents, the same is true for you. Putting your own needs first, will ultimately be in the best interests of the people who rely on you.
  8. Leave your luggage behind  – this is always one I imagine I might struggle with if tested,  but the logic resonates nevertheless. Sometimes our baggage gets in the way and we have to let it go and take that step into the unknown to protect ourselves. This is another area where professional help can be a good idea. Make sure you understand fully what is holding you back.

If you need support to protect your career in times of uncertainty – contact me. 

 

 

 

 

Career path is dead

Career Path replaced by Cluster Career

What’s happening to the career path?

We all know the concept of  having a career path has shifted. Initially this was almost imperceptible, but in the last few years, it is well.. dying, some would say already dead. We saw the arrival of the portfolio career and now I’m seeing the start something else.  What I’m calling a cluster career.

That is a series of diversified professional activities. Not be confused with a career cluster which is quite different.

Linear Career on the wane

The notion of a vertically linear career path, is disappearing, at the same pace as agile and lean are commonplace. The expansion of the “gig”, on demand or collaborative economy is a key part of that shift. It is estimated that 25% of the total workforce will be working on demand.

In certain traditional professions, linear promotion may still apply for a while longer: law and, medicine, come to mind. But even those knowledge based professions will face change, as they are replaced by artificial intelligence.

Portfolio careers

We then saw the arrival of  “Portfolio Careers,” where career management was based on the identification of transferable skills, which could be used in a range of sectors and functions. This was based on strengths and interests, to create a career strategy which met identified goals and allowed people to manage their own careers.

This approach was blocked by older school hiring managers with traditional mind sets, struggling to cope with a model that doesn’t fit a “copy paste” recruitment mode, which facilitates filling openings with “Mini-Mes”

Cluster Career

This concept has been taken a step further by the Cluster Career, with even further diversification, to include multiple, activities in seemingly unrelated fields.

It can be one activity at a time, in rotation. Pete (The Feet)  is a marine engineer, who is also a chiropodist. Isabella is an auditor who responded to a recent call for graduates to retrain as maths and science teachers in the U.K. Elinor, trained as a lawyer, worked as a journalist, then as a media consultant. Olivia is an environmental scientist, turned tree surgeon.

Or it can be multiple activities simultaneously to suit demand: Martin, works in Instructional Design and as a chef and a hairdresser and switches between all to suit the market. Janice does ad hoc editorial and content marketing, plus beauty therapy (mani-pedi and massage.) Dylan, an events manager, works in a bar, as well as gigging as photographer.

What they have in common is fast and continuous learning skills, an ability to change direction, open mindedness and mental agility. They also have acute trend spotting skills.

Strategic diversification

For this type of career management to be effective, some key concepts have to be applied to take a strategic global overview of a career and then project long term. There has to be clear answers to the following two questions:

  •  Will my knowledge be needed by anyone? Ever?

Demand and supply for skills comes and goes. Technical skills gained in university are out of date before someone has graduated. The list of Jobs being automated gets longer every day. Knowledge and access to skill training is becoming easier, pushing down the earning power of certain skills, as competition increases because of over supply. We have seen that with the glut of life coaches on the market and social media “experts.”  Pete-The-Feet is targeting the 65+ demographic, which after 2025 according to W.H.O. will represent  63% of the global population. Pete’s logic is “we all need feet”

  • Will anyone want to pay for what I know?

The trick will be to position yourself on the right side of demand/supply curve, so that any professional activity you pursue, will generate enough revenue to pay your bills. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still out there. The talent will be to identify long term skill gaps, where certain competencies are in short supply and take the necessary steps to up-skill. This is a difficult one and why we have seen so many unemployed graduates, because high numbers are studying topics that will soon be obsolete. Any profession involved with the aging population will be in demand. The skills will presumably be anything that can’t be automated or robotized. Ironically, many seem to involve manual work.

Career Planning Today

Previously we have talked about pursuing a passion and finding the ideal career, as if it were one single object or objective. Most people embarking on a career will change jobs every 2-3 years. They are now more likely to be pursuing multiple professional activities, in sequence or concurrently. These activities may, or may not, have compatible transferable skills.

That will make career planning today more challenging. Having an open mind and being a life long learner will be critical. People are going to have more options than ever, which is going to make positioning and pitching, to what will eventually be a new breed of recruiters and hiring managers,  who should be trained to assess diverse skills, across multiple disciplines.  Currently at their core many are still conservative, but they will retire eventually.

The need to be self-aware, self-advocating, self-reliant, self- sufficient, self managing and self- promoting, maybe even self- taught and adaptable is going to increase.

The days when anyone took care of your career are over.

For all career coaching needs contact me NOW

 

 

 

The return of the office Christmas party

The festive period is now upon us. After several years consigned to the doldrums by diminished, recession ravaged budgets, I have it on good authority that this year, with the green shoots of recovery the good old office Christmas party is back in full force.

With an optimistic outlook about an upturn,  many organisations are going back to hosting their annual office Christmas knees-up.   A simple Google search on the topic produces almost one million results in 57 seconds would testify to this hearsay.  The physical reminders are all around us. Tacky earrings, seasonal ties and notices about Secret Santa gifts. The office Christmas party is firmly on the calendar.

Post recession

For most companies the lavish budgets of yester year, with no expense spared events at restaurants or hotels are still history. I’ve only ever read about  the ones featuring ice sculptures, flowing Veuve Clicquot and cabaret artists that people have actually heard of.  My experiences, especially in my early career,  have been more centred around parties characterised by Micawber like frugality: a few mince pies thrown together in the staff cafeteria, accompanied by a solitary glass of something singularly and poisonously unpleasant.

My first ever boss invited me  for Christmas lunch,  ordered two cheese and onion sandwiches, before knocking back five double G & Ts and then going on to eat my leftover onion to take away the smell of the gin.

But for a great number, these renewed office festivities are a return to the dread that they faced prior to the economic crisis. This is synonymous with being forced to make small talk with the boss (or worse still his/her partner) eating limp canapés and drinking inferior plonk with co-workers they would prefer to spend less time with, not more.

Super party-ers 

However,  there are always the super office party goers who regardless of the economic climate subscribe to the theory that if the drinks are on the house they are most definitely going to make the most of it.  These are the ones whose drunken aberrations (which  they don’t remember happening and have no wish to recall … ever)  provide the high-octane fuel of office gossip, well after the half-year results have been published.

Opportunity

For the savvy networker they can represent a great and unique opportunity to raise internal visibility and make strategic alliances. On what other occasion is the whole company brought together under the one roof,  at the same time?

By that I don’t mean chasing the co-worker who figures in their sexual fantasies around the photo copy machine with a sprig of mistletoe. Or slurring to a senior executive that a box of cereal contains more strategic elements than the latest sales plan. That is a true story.  Nor obsequiously trying to ingratiate themselves with executive Board Members who wouldn’t recognise them in a line- up thirty minutes later.

The office party can be a great opportunity to look into your own organisation to simply identify the people whom it would be great and useful to know.

Research them.  Introduce yourself and tell them exactly that!

Have a great time!

Radio Interview with Mary van de Wiel – The Art of Career Transition

Mary van de Wiel alias "Van"

Mary van de Wiel alias “Van”

This is yet another illustration of the power of social media with an introduction from long time Twitter connection @CareerSherpa  Hannah Morgan to   Mary van de Wiel, Brand Anthropologist,  creator of NY Brand Lab & Brand Audits and  of Zing Your Brand.  .

As CEO, Brand Anthropologist at The NY Brand Lab and ZingYourBrand.com, a NY-based consultancy, workspace & lab, Van helps entrepreneurs, start-up CEOs and business leaders recognize themselves so others can.   With a strong background in advertising as a high-profile Creative Director she has  many corporate successful campaigns under her belt.

Van invited me to an intercontinental radio interview yesterday!  She is a skilled interviewer and the time flew.  We had great fun and lots of useful tips emerged from our dialogue.

So  what does Personal Branding mean to the job seeker or a person in transition?  I wondered if  I dare tell  Mary, a noted Brand Anthropologist,  that I hate the phrase and the first thing I do in my coaching programme is de-mystify it and make the process accessible !

I did! Listen to find out!

Listen to internet radio with NY Brand Lab Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Most important  takeaways:

  • Set goals! Make career management part of your ongoing annual routine and career strategy . Your brand, visibility and online and digital presence should always be in line with those goals.
  • Brand  YOU marketing will vary from one person to another. Be authentic.
  • Recruiters are time bound  – use the top half of your LinkedIn profile wisely with easy to digest but punchy text  with key words included.
  • An online presence is only a tool to get you to interview and meetings.
  • Don’t wait until you have a problem to take care of your career.
  • Network, network AND then network!.

My two dares:

  • Find 6 new powerful words to describe yourself. Think of a new way of telling your story . Use your transferable skills. Create a dialogue.
  • Invite 2 new people from your organisation or network to lunch before the end of the year. Why only two?  I want it to be achievable!

Enjoy! Let me know if you make your dares!

Portfolio careers: What are your tent-pole skills?

tent poleOne of the buzz words reverberating around the job search market is the need to identify our tent- pole skills or skill.. This is rooted in company jargon which according to Bruce Watson means:  “the tent pole  is  a term that refers to a company’s most promising or prominent product. Generally, a tent pole generates most of an organization’s income, making it possible for workers to make products that may be less profitable.”    

Believe it or not there are people who are so multi-talented and have such an amazing combination of left and right hand brain competencies that they excel in every activity they turn their hand to. They have a wide range of interests, passions and skills and have built up excellent portfolio careers.  Hard to imagine that this could present difficulties – but it does.

How can these individuals make informed decisions on which  tent-pole skills or skill to anchor their careers, when they need or want to make a change ?

One story

Jonas has had a glittering portfolio career. Multi-lingual and multi-cultural, qualifying as a lawyer in a Magic Circle law firm, he then pursued an opportunity in corporate law where at the same time he gained an MBA from a top-tier business school. A two-year stint in Marketing for a boutique law firm followed, where his creative marketing strategies attracted the attention of a major international player resulting in a successful acquisition. He then decided to  launch a landscape gardening business going on to employ a team of 16. This was eventually sold to allow him to pursue his passion for film, and he succeeded in winning a much coveted international prize for corporate video production.

Now at age 45 with an expensive divorce and child care responsibilities every second week, he is looking to refocus. He is despondent about this failure to return to the workplace as a corporate employee and is somewhat baffled by the response. Jonas stated his needs briefly “Put simply  my requirements are to identify which of my skills can make me revenue rich (or richer) without making me time poor.

Now that sounds like a universal goal most job searchers would put at the  very top of their wish lists.  Ironically,  Jonas has gone from feeling generally unique with high levels of recognition, to becoming simply one of the crowd. Words which have never been applied to him  before, he now hears regularly “flight risk” and “job hopper,” plus “lack of long-term commitment” to name but a few, with a demoralising effect.

Do you need help identifying your tent-pole skills? Check out the individual coaching programmes.

Key skills

Generally speaking the identification of  skills, tent pole or otherwise, has to be done with a dose of realism.   Strong soft skills without up to date hard skills can be high risk currency for many organisations. A law degree acquired 20 years ago would almost certainly need some updating and would be valueless today as a stand alone qualification. But it does tell part of Jonas’ story which needs to be re-created not just  in terms of the chronology, but in light of his  achievements. These soft skills, more tent poles if you like, are also more effective and powerful in clusters. They allow the canvas of a career story to be erected across a number of poles, rather than relying on one solitary support.

Cluster skills

What Jonas does bring to the table is a strong combination of a legally trained mind, combined with analytical business skills, commercial and entrepreneurial acumen, plus leadership competencies. He has gained experience in building diverse activities into successful enterprises attractive for acquisition, and pursuing personal projects to achieve international recognition. It’s not so much the time he has spent at anything, but the result. Not forgetting of course he has always achieved excellence.

Jonas is currently in negotiation with a consulting firm which has been fully appraised of his domestic circumstances.