Action, reflection – identifying qualifiable skills

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When you are looking for a new role it important that one of the first things you do is take the time to identify your core skills and strengths. This is good practice and will strengthen your CV, and ultimately, it will stand you in good stead in interviews, when you are asked competency-based questions.

However, it’s not always easy to dissect your own personality – be it your work persona, or your everyday personality, so it can be helpful to ask others for an assessment too. It’s important to get an honest opinion from them, as it can shine a light on areas in your skillset where there could be room for improvement and what makes up your workplace DNA. This feedback can be from colleagues at work, or friends at home, and it is worth working through the results with your Career Consultant too.

Reflecting on your career

Identifying your qualifiable skills can be difficult, so your Career Consultant can act as the mirror for your reflections. An independent voice, someone who can only see you as you appear to them – without any backstory and prior knowledge – can be very useful in identifying both your strengths and weaknesses. Your Consultant can talk through your responses with you, and it will give them a good indication of the kind of person you are. Your aspirations, for example, will often define your perception of your own capabilities and level of hopes for the future.

Natural responses

But it won’t just be about your answers, about how you respond – it will be your posture, the language you use, your demeanour. Do you come across as a negative person, a nervous person, a lazy person? Do you undersell yourself? Or are you overconfident, with no weaknesses, or self-awareness of them at least? It’s not always easy to identify qualifiable skills. When you are put on the spot, if you are asked what your strongpoints are, many people cannot readily put their finger on an answer. You must have organic, natural responses – not parrot-fashion soundbites – and that is where an external viewpoint may be useful.

Encapsulating success

Often people reel off achievements as examples of their success. It’s an easy way of measuring success and it is something tangible – it’s like an author holding up their book when asked for their raison d’etre. It’s a neat justification for their work, their career and their own existence. But many roles don’t have such as easy way to demonstrate or encapsulate success. When asked what their greatest work achievement is, a ready answer is not always forthcoming. When selecting such an example to use, say in an interview, it should be a moment in your life when you played to your strengths and delivered real results.

Increased self-awareness

Your Consultant should be able to help you identify what the answer to that ‘greatest achievement’ question might be and also draw out how you came to enjoy that success. There will a multitude of factors at play – these may be personal knowledge and aptitude, confidence and attitude, or other work-related skills. But by discussing and reflecting on your career with a Consultant, you will find that you slowly reveal your quantifiable skills as part of the process. This self-awareness will leave you better prepared for all stages of the hunt for your next move – from enhancing and strengthening your CV, to preparing with more self-awareness for interviews.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.


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Welcome to our new vlog from Career Evolution!

We will be sharing weekly advice and updates from the industry on outplacement, career management, and coaching.

In our second vlog, our director, Sue Thomas, rounds up some of our posts from May, including getting out and about for meetings, job searches and defining our ‘self’.

Watch the video below:

See our first vlog here.

Developing the team

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The word ‘Team’ is everywhere at the moment – thanks to the use of Google Teams as one of the key internet platforms for staging online meetings (* other online meeting platforms are available) and the need to ensure teams can work together, despite sometimes being situated remotely. The need for communication and collaboration within teams has never been greater, even with the hybrid model many businesses are currently adopting. But just as individual coaching can have a huge impact on a person who is seeking to evolve, transform or transition their career, so too it can help teams to develop, to create a formidable, efficient working unit.

What makes the team work?

So how to approach the team scenario? In the same way you’d look at what makes an individual tick, so too you need to look at what makes the team work together so well. Each member will have something to bring to the table and it is these elements that should be focussed on. It was once a CV cliché that everyone would include being a ‘Good team player’ as an attribute, but to truly be able to work well as part of a team is a talent in itself. There has to be give and take – not everyone can do it and not everyone enjoys the sharing, openness and diplomacy that are often key attributes of being a valuable team player.

Points of view

There are two sides to every story and being a member of a team doesn’t mean always having to compromise. Groupthink shouldn’t exist in a real-world team environment, where agreement is met via the path of least resistance. Problems and challenges should be discussed, viewpoints should be aired and ideas exchanged. The ability to put a viewpoint forward and argue a case are positive attributes, but some team members with opposing views may find such behaviour obstructive if it means they don’t ‘get their own way’.

Individually, team members can be weaker in certain areas, because they will compensate and bring other qualities to the group. The important thing is that the team as a whole functions to carry out its tasks and that its tests and deadlines are met. Assembling a team capable of achieving this is half the challenge of course and filling the right roles with the right people is an essential part of the process as a manager and coordinator.

People people

Communication is also key to any team’s success, but it’s not only imperative to be a good communicator when a member of a team. Being comfortable communicating is important, but in a team a good listener is also invaluable. In team meetings, it helps if members are personable, open, conversant, and able to convey their knowledge into valid points.

Coaching can help individual team members to become more confident in expressing themselves in an open forum and also to identify where their strengths lie in a team scenario – and where improvements can be made. If you have a tendency to speak before you think, for example, this is something that can trip you up in team meetings. Coaching can also help you articulate your thoughts into coherent arguments and boost your confidence in a group environment, so you can play to your strengths.

If you think your team and its members would benefit from some specialist coaching – or even simply a discussion on how coaching can help – then get in touch with one of our experts today.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Defining your self – who are we?

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It’s interesting, but for many of us self-assessment and self-evaluation are very difficult things to do. Being able to identify strengths and weaknesses, admitting there might be room for improvement or even where your skillsets and talents lie, can be difficult for individuals to do under their own steam. Speaking from experience, it’s part of my role to ensure that clients are made to feel relax and honest – but what does it feel like to be put in the hotseat?

Who am I?

I often ask new outplacement clients to tell me about their career history starting from the age of 16. This is the point when we choose our next step into further or higher education, or go into the workplace as a trainee or apprentice straight away. This discussion process can take considerable time and I often get apologies, as people think they’re ‘rambling’ – as we can be covering many years and many roles. It’s great to get information in this way though, as it starts to draw out themes and provides an excellent starting point for the coaching or career assessment process that follows.

Only once have I ever had the tables turned on me. Several years ago, a new client asked me to tell my education and career history and choices. I was quite discomforted at the time – I didn’t know whether I was being tested for my pedigree in career coaching, or if there was a genuine interest. It felt awkward and I couldn’t help looking at her for approval or otherwise. I received some stern looks and wondered if I was veering off course. At the end of about 20-30 minutes, I’d told my story and she smiled. We had made similar choices in our higher education and first employment roles back in our teens and were now in wildly different sectors and roles – both to one other and to where we thought we would be now. Importantly, we were both very happy and satisfied with what we were presently doing. It struck me that there are so many starting points and routes to identifying our self, why we’ve reached where we are now, and where we will be in the future.

What am I?

“I was…”. These are often the first words clients tell me when I ask them to start telling me about their career and what they’ve done and achieved.  We tend to define ourselves by our job roles, not who we are as a person. I’m passionate about my job and love (almost) every day of it. However, in describing myself, I’m so much more than my job role, but the sum of many aspects of my life – all the family and friendships, hobbies, interests and lifestyle, as well as my character, define me as a person. So I suppose the answer is that “I am Sue Thomas”. It’s a much healthier way of thinking – the present tense rather than the past – and defines us beyond our job and everyday work.

Most of us have job titles that relate to our last role rather than a traditional profession, e.g. Marketing Director, Operations Manager, Chief Financial Officer. If we’re out of work, we feel that we’ve left those titles that define us behind. Some people in their profession can always identify and confidently say what they are, whether they are in employment or not – e.g. doctors, architects, lawyers, writers, accountants. They are what they are, whoever they work for. But in the end, when it comes down to it, we are all somebody – we are ourselves.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Don’t lose sight of your destination

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I often find, that when a client has lost their job, one of the first things I do with them is to scope out what they want to do next, to help them reach their career destination. As they can be feeling bruised, battered, with low confidence and anxious, this can be difficult. If they’ve lost confidence in what they’ve done, how can they be expected to express that they want the same – or more – in their next role?

My first task is to help take them out of that negative mindset. Between us, we draw up a list of what they want – this includes everything from job role, seniority, sectors, culture, working hours, salary, location etc. This list can be exhaustive as necessary. This activity helps them refocus on, or identify, what is important to them.

Stick to the path

During a job search, it is easy to deviate from the goals you set. While I am not an advocate of rigidity, it is very important that my clients remember the non-negotiables that they set themselves at the start of the process. Great people are often sought after by people or organisations which want their skills, but don’t necessarily offer what has been scoped out. It is all too easy for an applicant to be swayed by the attention, especially if they are feeling vulnerable.

The best answer isn’t always ‘yes’

When there is a job offer of the table, it is really important to revisit the main list and see how the package matches up to the non-negotiables that have been identified. While it might seem tempting to accept a new role for the surety it will provide, it is essential that the role you eventually take will provide you with more than just job security. Lifestyle, professional achievement and personal satisfaction are all important elements to consider in the decision-making process.

By keeping your non-negotiables in mind, you are helping secure yourself the best kind of career move and reach your destination.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Career Evolution back out and about!

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After over two years of working from home, I have carried out my first face-to-face meetings during April – from workshops to client lunches. Prior to heading out for my first face-to-face meetings, I admit to some anxiety about doing it, not least because I have only recently got over Covid myself.

Deepening connections

However, the meetings went well, and it was great working with our Coach, Jo Clare again on one of the workshops. What really surprised me though was the deep sense of satisfaction that I experienced having successfully carried out the meetings, and the depth of connections that were developed quickly, largely because we were in the same space.

A time and place

While I don’t intend to fill-up my diary with meetings in the future – I have certainly seen the benefits of remote meetings from a focused and time efficient perspective (no travel time for starters!) – I do recognise the strategic importance of some face-to-face interaction, particularly when I am building the relationship with a new client.

Making the right choice

I think it is important that we remember that everyone will have a different approach to meetings in the future and developing best practice will probably result in a hybrid approach, much like the return to the office versus working from home. There is certainly much more choice now about how work is carried out and while the last couple of years has shown the effectiveness of online meetings, more recent months have demonstrated first-hand the power of face-to-face.