WELCOME TO OUR THIRD VLOG!

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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 third vlog, our director, Sue Thomas, rounds up some of our posts from June, including working with our new associate Jo Clare.

Watch the video below:

See our first vlog here and our second vlog here.

Peter McCarthy – Finding a passion for business

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Following a successful senior career spanning over 40 years in Human Resources within a wide variety of sectors and latterly in the Nuclear  industry, Peter McCarthy realised he wanted a change of direction. Following much individual thought and consultation with his own manager, Peter agreed an exit plan with his employer and left his full-time role at the start of 2022.

Opportunities aplenty

With many opportunities available to him and different potential directions to take, Peter recognised that he would benefit from working with an Outplacement Consultant. Over the years, he had worked with Career Evolution on numerous occasions, and he knew and trusted the business, so this time he reached out to Director Sue Thomas from his own personal standpoint, rather than a business one.

Peter explains: “It can be quite overwhelming when you find yourself in this kind of situation. You need to identify what it is you actually want to do next. Sue Thomas worked with me via Zoom and helped me get some clarity of thought – asking the dumb questions and really making me think. There wasn’t ‘one’ big aha moment, rather Sue helped me identify all the little things that ultimately showed me the direction I wanted to take next.”

The great resignation

One of the first things Sue helped Peter to develop, was his own personal brand and structure his CV so that it was purposeful. She also helped Peter develop the structure of the paper he was working on, which he has now written and gone on to get published in a prestigious title. The paper looks at the engagement between employers and employees, and the role that this plays in the knowledge exodus in a time that has been labelled ‘The Great Resignation’.

Peter continued: “I have now set up my own business, The Knowledge Bank Ltd, and I am excited to be able to explore my passion of working with people and understanding how businesses can avoid the knowledge exodus. I want to help businesses develop their people strategies so that there is a clear knowledge sharing and transfer in place.”

He continued: “The other part of my business I am looking to explore, is working as a non-executive director. Sue has helped me develop my value proposition and identify who my ideal customer is. This support will prove invaluable as I develop my business further.”

The five ‘Whys’

When asked how the support from Sue Thomas and Career Evolution has helped the most, Peter explained: “Sue’s support was invaluable, she made sure we explored each concept thoroughly. We really drilled down into the subjects we were discussing, and she used the five ‘whys’ on me to really make me think. I am now excited and looking forward to developing my business and also engaging in further academic research.”

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

A helping hand – Volunteers’ Week 2022

With our busy lives, it’s easy to forget about community issues like volunteering and caring for others. There’s a multitude of volunteering opportunities for people looking to contribute their time and expertise, and the contribution made by volunteers is often very underrated in the UK. There are a multitude of ways to volunteer, from offering care and companionship, to operating and helping out with charity organisations.  It takes a certain type of person to become a volunteer and it is also a two-way street, as the volunteer can often get a lot out of the process too.  Volunteers’ Week 2022 took place from 1-7 June, so I thought now was a good time to look at how volunteering can make a world of difference to someone.

Speaking from experience, I have become involved with Age UK Cheshire as a telephone friend. The opportunity arose during the pandemic, but has continued ever since. I started to be a telephone friend to a gentleman in his 80s, once the pandemic had started, as I wanted to help out and support people who may have felt isolated and cut off when the lockdowns and other restrictions hit. Many people, particularly elderly or infirm individuals, rely on regular contact and help, through meet-ups, societies and clubs, support organisations and other networks. All this was curtailed abruptly when Covid hit in March 2019.

Lending an ear

I found that my contribution has been really easy to fit in to a busy routine – I can carry out the calls wherever I have a phone signal and from anywhere in the country – but has been very satisfying too. The feedback from my ‘befriendee’, if that’s the word, has been excellent. Older people can become lonely, even if they have people dropping in on them to do transactional things, like shopping and paying bills. They often want a supportive, listening ear to talk to about things that matter, past and present, from days in the Forces doing National Service, to talking about their pets. It’s often the little things that matter – not the big picture, the everyday – and being able to communicate with someone for a simple chat has made me realise there are probably scores of people out there who don’t have the benefit of this support.

As a result of the last two years, many of us have realised the need for wide support in our communities, as councils struggle with budget cuts and amenities are stretched. Could these lessons learned be built into us becoming a more caring society in general, after the traumas of the past two years – and to helping each other more, whether professionally or personally?

Lesson learnt

Skills such as volunteering and listening reveal facets about people that formal qualifications and job experience do not. So, I always encourage clients to include broader aspects of their personality on their CVs. This can include such wider interests as volunteering and charity work, and involvement in community projects. It reveals a different skillset than more formal business experience and qualifications, and gives prospective employers a true insight into the person you really are away from the place of work. You can easily search online, to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Think about how you can help out and how you can make a difference to the people in our communities. You may find you surprise yourself as to how much you enjoy the experience – I certainly did.

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

Knock, knock… who’s there?

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Some jobs are readily identifiable – doctors and lawyers for example – whereas other roles are more fluid and difficult to pigeonhole. If you are a sales or marketing manager for example, or involved in HR or other administrative role, you can easily transfer between a range of sectors. You may be in construction, or private health, or entertainment and leisure, and each sector is vastly different – and offers vastly different experiences. However, if your job is made redundant, you are still the same person, regardless of your job title. When your next employer comes knocking, which ‘you’ will answer the door?

Identity crisis

We think of ourselves at work as ‘I am a…’ and that tends to define us partly as a person too. This is especially noticeable when you first meet people, or in a networking situation, where first impressions matter. In these instances, a shorthand is often required to get your role across quickly and succinctly. We want to impress but we also want to accurately define what we are in terms of our career. In the workplace, some roles are easily identifiable – roles such as doctor or lawyer do what they say on the name badge. And even in those cases, there are all kinds of specialisms and subdivisions across the industries.

Opportunity knocks

Our work – in part – makes us what we are and shapes where our career path will take us. We need to think both what makes us human and also where our work strengths and weaknesses lie. Often they intersect. Unless you’re the Queen of England, anyone can switch roles, change tack and follow any given career. What is life but a chain of opportunities that you either take or you don’t?

Sometimes passing up what looks like a great opportunity does you more good in the long run, but often good opportunities can be passed up without realising it, because you’ll never know how they worked out. If you only think of yourself in your current role, in your current sector, then your career advancement may never get beyond your imagination. On the flipside, if you chop and change between sectors and roles, you may have trouble deciding what (or even who) exactly you are and what your job entails.

Split personalities

There’s also the phenomenon on the portfolio career. This is someone who has a multitude of jobs, often around the same discipline – say accounting, or writing – which they carry out concurrently. In this case, the identity crisis is even more pronounced, if one day you are doing one role, on another day another. Some kind of compartmentalisation is required, and you need to draw lines between where one role ends and another starts. Of course, it’s even more difficult to condense what you do into a single sentence, for that networking session, if it involves an array of disciplines and even sectors. It suits some people, others less so, and often depends on your motivational and organisational skills.

Career Consultants like Career Evolution can help you to define what makes you the person you are at work. Your strengths, weaknesses, skills and aptitudes. We can also demonstrate where you can identify your transitional skills, that can help you make the leap from one sector to another. Being dexterous and adaptable is all part of forging a successful career – just don’t forget who you really are in the process…

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

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.

WELCOME TO OUR SECOND VLOG!

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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. See our first vlog here.

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:

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.