How to make your CV stand out

For many job opportunities, an inquisitive email and an attached CV is the first impression you make with potential employers. Your choice of words and the way you present them can make a good impression, but just as easily make a bad one. Everyone thinks their work experience is unique, that their career progression is seamless, and their written voice is riveting. But there are many different ways of making your CV stand out from the crowd.

You probably have a clearly-defined concept of how you like others to see you, but how successful are you at getting those messages across on paper? CV’s are personal things and should be developed to work for you, based on your personality and experience. From the off, you want to show your potential employers that you are the ideal candidate for the job and you can be of great benefit to the company. You need to get the balance right between demonstrating your skills, qualities and experiences to appeal to an employer and staying true to your own personality. Showcase your strengths in areas that matter. If the post requires excellent communication skills, highlight instances which demonstrate your aptitude at communicating and coordinating. If you’re are going to become part of a tightknit team, show how you have performed well and achieved whilst working as part of a team.

If you don’t have a clearly-defined idea of how your CV should look, it perhaps would be beneficial to talk to a career coach or advisor. They can help you hone your CV and point you in the right direction of how best to highlight your talents, clearly and succinctly.  Think about your ideal role and how you are suited to it. Demonstrate your aptitude, so that your CV tells a story and it stands out as a quality document. Also, make sure what you write is grammatically correct and makes senses in Plain English. You can be intelligent in your choice of words, but don’t try to be too clever. So, think about how you want to present yourself, but also about your audience. Tailor your language to the role you are applying for. Don’t send out the same spec CV over and over again. Also, make sure it’s intermittently updated, so that when you need it, it’s not a massive job of incorporating new experience, qualifications and roles when the time comes for you to need your CV. And presentation is important too, so give some thought to font size, layout and borders, to make your CV as memorable as possible.

Are you a lone wolf or strictly a team player?

If you find yourself faced with redundancy, you may look upon this as an opportunity to take your career in a completely different direction. Some people have always had a secret dream to set up a business on their own. If you are one of them, you need to think about it carefully as self-employment is not for everyone. It’s very tempting to dream of being your own boss with no more days as a wage slave but the reality of self-employment can be rather different from the fantasy.

If you are trying to work out if you can make it as a lone wolf, having been a team player in the workplace so far, here are 10 points to bear in mind, whether you’re considering freelancing, consultancy, or you want to start a brand new business:

  1. If you are a motivated self-starter then self-employment may be the perfect environment for you to flourish in, as you will need to be proactive constantly.
  2. Time management skills are vital – there will be no one checking up on you and no one to report to.
  3. Networking is really important for anyone working alone so not only must you be prepared to do it, you need to be happy to do it alone.
  4. You need to be able to separate your professional and personal lives, which can be tricky, especially if you find yourself working from home. It’s vital not to alienate your friends and family by having work creep into every waking hour.
  5. Although having control over your own schedule, with the opportunity to work flexibly, may sound very attractive, you may miss the support system of a busy workforce and find working on your own isolating and lonely.
  6. You need to be able to cope with a ‘feast or famine’ working pattern – experiencing stretches of intense activity, alternated with sometimes worryingly long quiet periods. This often means your income is unpredictable and it can make planning your life quite challenging.
  7. You need to be a great multi-tasker as you will be responsible for everything from sales, legal issues, accounts, customer relations and all your IT niggles as well.
  8. You are your own boss – but that means all the responsibility is on your shoulders with no option to pass the buck.
  9. As your business grows, you may need to take on additional staff. This means you may find yourself being an employer, with added responsibilities – how will you feel about that?
  10. Although you will be striking out on your own, consider finding a mentor. Make sure whoever you choose can be trusted to be brutally honest and tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear!

On track for success

You have probably heard it said that looking for a new job is as time-consuming as working full-time. This can absolutely be the case, so in the same way as you schedule out your tasks at work, you should keep track of your activities while searching for a new job.

Tracking is an important part of the job seeking process. It helps you to keep a log of who you have spoken to, at which companies. It also helps you identify any actions that need to be taken, whether interviews need to be arranged, informal conversations undertaken and if your follow-up calls have been made. Confusion can arise about the name of the person you are meeting, or the company they represent, when you are dealing with a number of job opportunities simultaneously. Worse, you might miss a golden opportunity with a prospective employer if you don’t keep a note of everything you have done – or have said you will do. In addition to a diarised log, a tracker can also be used to keep note of upcoming networking and business events that could prove useful to you as a way of making positive business connections.

As part of the job search process, your tracker can also act as an aide memoire, as it can be used to track things such as the type of questions you have been asked in your interviews and how you have responded to them. This can lead you to formulate suggestions of other ways that you could have answered. In this way you are able to prepare for future interviews, honing your responses and making you sound more confident in yourself and your capabilities.

Developing a useful tracker doesn’t have to involve anything fancy – it could be a simple as a notepad and pen. However, you might find it useful to develop a Word document table, or an Excel spreadsheet. Alternatively, there are lots of apps out there that enable you to track your activity on your mobile or tablet. Find the format that works best for you and rigorously keep a note of everything you do, as your attention to detail will prove helpful in your job search in the long run.

Is career progression about who you know or what you know?

,

Of the many different aspects of you and your personality that affect career progression, perhaps the most important is ambition. But ambition is only as strong as the opportunities that are presented to you in your working life. Two of the most important factors that can help you fulfil your ambitions are ‘who you know’ and ‘what you know’.

Who’s Who?

Establishing and building work relationships is the key to success. Many people keep their ‘work’ and ‘social’ lives completely separate, but in the technology-led world we live in today, the two are becoming more interlinked. As the lines blur between social media and business contacts, it’s sometimes difficult to retain the distinction, as sites such as LinkedIn encourage businesspeople to forge links with like-minded professionals.

In the real world, rather than the virtual one, the equivalent is networking, where you can meet people from related disciplines, who may be able to link up with you professionally. Another example of ‘who you know’ being an advantage in career advancement is when your work colleagues move on elsewhere and opportunities arise for you at their new workplace. Regardless of who exactly you know, the more contacts you have – and the more well-liked and respected you are – the more avenues will be open to you.

What’s What?

Another crucial factor in career progression is what you know: your specialisms and what makes you unique. If you stand out from the crowd, you will be more attractive to prospective employers. Ambition is all well and good, but without the knowledge to back it up, your career might stall.

Keep an eye on new legislation and training opportunities. Be at the forefront of new thinking and make yourself indispensable to your company’s business strategy. It’s all about demonstrating your breadth of knowledge and depth of experience.

A CV is a shop window for prospective employers and needs to be a true reflection of ability. Experience is something that you can’t replicate without living it. You learn as you go along, from other experts and sometimes from your own mistakes.

Career progression isn’t just about who and what you know, but these can be big factors in career fulfilment. If you feel directionless, perhaps you need to discuss your work with someone, to get you back on track. When it comes to maximising potential, career coaches can look at what skills you have at your disposal and make the most of what you’ve got to be successful.

The importance of SMART to you

When considering implementing a coaching programme with individuals within a team or a team within a business it is important to understand why you are doing this and what you are hoping to achieve from it.  By clearly setting out and agreeing your objectives – from the business, individual and coaches point of view – you are more likely to achieve a successful outcome.  And, perhaps almost as importantly, you will be able to demonstrate that you have.

Business coaching has the potential to deliver a myriad of positive benefits for the business and the individual receiving the coaching.  This can be anything from a fresh perspective on a personal challenge, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, or increased confidence. Personal and professional improvement could also include increased productivity, success in achieving goals or an overall satisfaction with work/life balance.  We take a quick look at the five key areas where coaching can have a demonstrable impact:

Development of self-awareness – coaching doesn’t provide the answers directly, but it does provide individuals with the space to develop their own solutions, guiding them and asking the right questions.

Improved levels of ownership and responsibility – with increased self-awareness, individuals are more likely to recognise a challenge and find ways to address it.

Increased confidence in identifying solutions to work-related challenges –coaching also provides employees with a better understanding of their own skills and capabilities, which in turn improves their own confidence in being able to identify an effective solution to work-related challenges.

Improvement in performance, achieving targets and goals – the combination of the outcomes above help lead to measurable improvements in things like work performance, business management, time management and team effectiveness.

Enthusiasm for personal learning and development – with the individual being able to see the positive impact that coaching is having on their performance they are more likely to recognise and embrace their own on-going personal learning and development.  This could include improved self-confidence, relationship development, communication skills and life/work balance.

Top Coaching Benefits for Employees

When considering implementing a coaching programme with individuals within a team or a team within a business it is important to understand why you are doing this and what you are hoping to achieve from it.  By clearly setting out and agreeing your objectives – from the business, individual and coaches point of view – you are more likely to achieve a successful outcome.  And, perhaps almost as importantly, you will be able to demonstrate that you have.

Business coaching has the potential to deliver a myriad of positive benefits for the business and the individual receiving the coaching.  This can be anything from a fresh perspective on a personal challenge, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, or increased confidence. Personal and professional improvement could also include increased productivity, success in achieving goals or an overall satisfaction with work/life balance.  We take a quick look at the five key areas where coaching can have a demonstrable impact:

Development of self-awareness – coaching doesn’t provide the answers directly, but it does provide individuals with the space to develop their own solutions, guiding them and asking the right questions.

Improved levels of ownership and responsibility – with increased self-awareness, individuals are more likely to recognise a challenge and find ways to address it.

Increased confidence in identifying solutions to work-related challenges –coaching also provides employees with a better understanding of their own skills and capabilities, which in turn improves their own confidence in being able to identify an effective solution to work-related challenges.

Improvement in performance, achieving targets and goals – the combination of the outcomes above help lead to measurable improvements in things like work performance, business management, time management and team effectiveness.

Enthusiasm for personal learning and development – with the individual being able to see the positive impact that coaching is having on their performance they are more likely to recognise and embrace their own on-going personal learning and development.  This could include improved self-confidence, relationship development, communication skills and life/work balance.

Getting Emotional

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said “change is the only constant in life”, but regardless of how true this statement is, change remains one of those things that people generally have difficulty coping with.  This is the same in personal situations and within the working environment.  In business, when people have to deal with changes to the status quo they will often experience an array of different emotions from denial and resistance through to understanding and integration.

Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified this and developed the Emotional Change Curve model in the 1960s.  This sets out to identify the key stages of change.  This model is very useful in helping people understand what they are likely to be feeling and why.  Obviously, no two people will deal with change in quite the same way, but if you understand the model you will be better equipped to help people face the change.

1.       Denial – often when faced with change people often won’t believe it will actually happen.  By repeating the key facts of the change and the underlying reasons for it, you will help to break through this phase

2.       Resistance – it is not uncommon for employees to feel anger about a change, particularly if they feel they have no control over the outcome.  It is important that these people have the opportunity to speak openly about how they are feeling, without this causing wider issues.  One-on-one meetings allows them the opportunity to explain how they feel and gives you the opportunity to actively listen and where appropriate, respond.

3.       Self-doubt – when employees realise that although they will be listened to, the outcome of the change remains the same then they can potentially suffer from self-doubt and depression.  Encouraging employees to talk things through with their colleagues, managers, sponsors and you can help.

4.       Exploration – eventually employees will begin to explore the realities of the change and what the business now looks like.  By acknowledging their more positive approach and highlighting the positives of the change, you will reinforce this approach.

5.       Acceptance – this follows when employees start to build confidence in the ‘new way’.  As confidence grows, then so too will employees’ acceptance of it.

6.       Understanding – when employees can see the benefits of the change, they will then understand why the change was implemented.  Reinforcing the benefits through regular, clear communication will help with this.

7.       Integration – eventually the change will no longer be something different, but will become business as usual.  Until the next time…

Resilience in the Workplace

There are many things to consider when dealing with transitional periods in the workplace – from getting the communications right, to working with employees to help them find their next career.  However, possibly one of the more important aspects is ensuring the people who are at the coalface, managing and supporting their teams, receive the tools they need to enable them to do this effectively.  The importance of resilience at these times should not be underestimated, so I asked Jo Clancy, our Business Change Consultant, to explain a bit more about it and the training we can provide.

What is resilience? Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with change, stress and uncertainty. Psychologists believe that people with high levels of resilience are better able to handle challenging conditions and adapt to new situations. Dealing with change or loss is an inevitable part of life, but resilience provides the ability to bounce back from any setback or change with a positive attitude and approach.

Why is it important to have resilience?  Resilience is particularly important when you are going through any period of change, be it positive or negative, in your personal life or working life.  It ensures coping strategies are in place to smooth the transition.

When redundancies are in the offing, people are not just at risk of losing their job and therefore their income, but also losing their self-worth, confidence and trust.  They become very vulnerable.  They may have trouble identifying the distinction between the job and the person, and probably won’t ‘hear’ the messages they are being told properly.  They will go through many emotions – or stages – and the training we provide helps them identify these and deal with them.

What are the different stages associated with change?  There are seven stages associated with change.  These are shock, denial, resistance, acceptance, testing, understanding and finally integration.

Why is it important that managers know and understand these stages? If you understand how people will feel and think at each of these stages, you are better positioned to understand and support them.  Also, you are better placed to identify and manage your own reactions and ensure they do not adversely affect the messages you are giving to your team.

What else does the ‘Resilience for Change’ training provide?  As well as recognising the stages, resilience training helps people develop coping strategies, from talking to people and sharing how it makes them feel, through to releasing negative energy thorough sport for example.  Everybody is different, so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the training. Rather it highlights dangers and signposts people towards developing their own personal coping mechanisms.

Focusing on the positive

Within the workplace employee progression is key.  One way that this can be achieved is through investing in coaching.  Coaching can provide direction, help improve performance, identify possibilities and opportunities and help individuals overcome any challenges or obstacles in achieving their objectives.  However, sometimes employees can feel that being offered coaching is somehow a negative reflection of their ability, rather than an opportunity for development, which should be embraced.

This article highlights just some of the positive benefits of coaching that your employees may not have thought about:

The chance to gain invaluable skills

Rather than being told what to do or how to do it, employees receiving coaching will be guided and supported, but the ultimate decisions will be the individual’s.  This type of learning helps develop skills that the employee may not have been aware of previously.

Team efficiency

Coaching and mentoring can impact on everyone not just the individual receiving the coaching.  The positive approach that coaching instills in an individual can make a huge difference to the morale of the whole team.

Improve upwards relationships

The fact that someone has been selected for coaching suggests that they have already been noticed by their manager or senior team within the business.  The coaching can help develop their confidence, which in turn can help them with their business relationships throughout the company.

Shows the company’s commitment to the team

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and by implementing a programme of coaching and personal development the business is demonstrating its commitment to the whole team.

A top 10 list of how to ensure your employees feel valued

In today’s increasingly ambiguous work environment, employers need to do more than provide compensation and perks to make employees feel appreciated. As a manager one of your most important responsibilities is making your employees feel truly valued, letting them know that without them, your company, your department—and frankly, you—would be worse off. Here is our 10 ways to ensure your employees always feel valued within the work place.

1.       Say thank you – Sounds obvious, but a simple thank you goes a long way and is a small reminder that you acknowledge their hard work

2.       Say please –  This sounds like a given, but politely asking an employee to carry out a task will get a much better response than ordering them to do it

3.       Organise a regular social event – This doesn’t have to be weekly or even monthly; a quarterly or biannual event that takes place around the same time each year gives staff something to look forward to

4.       Challenge them – Challenging employees within their routine tasks to deliver a higher quality output, or tackle a problem and take up more responsibilities can make a big difference. By challenging an employee you give them an element of your trust, which leads to faith that they can overcome whatever you throw at them.

5.       Reward them – Frequent rewards will make an employee feel that their work has gone above and beyond what is expected. The reward does not have to be of monetary value, but simply an act or gift that says ‘well done’

6.       Place trust in them – Building a culture of transparency and placing trust in employees can make them feel more connected

7.       Have clear progression strategies – People tend to feel unappreciated when they are working hard but can’t see their career heading in any direction. Providing that direction helps people keep on track for their targets and feel like you believe in them

8.       Ask your co-workers about themselves – Questions and acknowledgements about family, their hobby, their weekend or a special event they attended are always welcome. Your genuine interest – as opposed to being nosey – causes people to feel valued and cared about

9.       Praise something your co-worker has done well – Identify the specific actions that you found admirable. This praise feels sincere since you took the time to spell out the details

10.   Provide opportunity – Many people want chances for training and cross-training. They want to participate on a special committee where their talents are noticed. They like to attend professional association meetings and represent your organisation at civic and philanthropic events.