Staying relevant in a changing world

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It’s very easy in the day to day, to lose sight of what actually allows you to carry out your job. We all take our attributes for granted to a certain extent. If you have experience in a discipline or sector, it does become something of second nature as to how you work and how your role is carried out. If you’re someone who works in an office, you don’t sit down at your desk in the morning and think: ‘What should I do today?’ We naturally check our emails, attend meetings, carry out tasks, do our jobs, but the process is entirely instinctive.

Working and learning

However, instinctiveness and routine perhaps encourage us to rest on our laurels too. This can lead to complacency when it comes to keeping up to date on new legislation and the latest industry thinking in our sectors. Some companies implement training and updates as a matter of course. If this is offered, it makes sense to take whatever opportunities are available. Employers may fund courses, including master’s degrees and other further qualifications, as well as conventional diplomas, degrees and relevant vocational qualifications.

Further education in the workplace is a positive outcome both for employer and employee. This mutually beneficial option is worth exploring if there are areas of research and education you’d like to take on. There will be a multitude of options, from in-person courses to online certificates. However, make sure that any academy purporting to provide certificated accreditation is authentic and the real deal, and not a bogus organisation.

Improved prospects

The importance of keeping relevant isn’t always naturally encouraged by employers. It may be down to the individual to make the effort themselves. There are many ways to keep abreast of industry developments. This can be through the membership of industry bodies, or it may be through websites and courses.

You can also tap into your colleagues’ knowledge. They may be able to advise you where to find relevant information, or even provide the tuition or training themselves. Sharing skill in the workplace is one area in business that is often overlooked. Networking might also be an option, with tips and news on current thinking and development often best heard by word of mouth. There’s no quicker way to impart information than an in-person conversation. It’s often the most straightforward and low-key situations. An informal chat over lunch or a coffee, for example, can prove the most unexpectedly rewarding.

Looking beyond the expected

You can also look beyond your sector too. There will be affiliate courses and accreditations that will be useful in your long-term career path. Certainly, any academy courses and memberships of official organisations – that will, in simple terms, ‘add letters after your name’ – will expand your skillset. This will make you a more attractive prospect for any employer in the future, and of course enhances your CV. Joining organisations will ensure you keep in the loop regarding industry developments and technological advances. You may also like to look at coaching and mentoring, whereby you will undergo a career appraisal that will identify areas where you can explore. A good Career Coach will both find out where you are in your current situation and identify areas you can address for career advancement that will keep you relevant – both for your current career path, and the road yet to be explored.

Shy and (un)retiring

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The current economic climate is leading to all kinds of unusual phenomena. From the continuation of work from home to the adoption of hybrid working models, people are changing their lifestyles and working life routines in a multitude of ways. One aspect is that people are continuing to work beyond their retiring age – but also some are coming back into the workplace, having already retired. This can be for many reasons, from financial necessity to personal choice. However, ‘unretirement’ is an undeniable trend that is worth looking at.

Uncertainty and finances

Research from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that there are now more people aged 50 and over in work – or actively looking for work – than since just prior to the pandemic. This is driven by a  number of key factors that are affecting everyone, in one degree or another. These new findings identify upwardly spiralling inflation, volatile financial markets and the soaring cost of living as leading to the ‘great unretirement’.

Some of the statistics are telling. Of the increase of 116,000 over-50s working or looking for work in the past year, more than half of them were men aged over 65. This is an increase of 8.5%. This research also showed that 37,000 more women over 65 were also now in work or looking for work. Experts deem this increase is being driven by former retirees returning to work, rather than people working longer.

Volatile financial markets are said to be creating significant fear and uncertainty in people’s perceptions of their future retirement income. Any kind of pension pot can be affected by all kinds of factors and in some instances, if there have been financial difficulties with the business, or any kind of personal fallings-out (such as divorce), this can have a big impact on savings, assets and pension arrangements.

Wellbeing and benefits

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, there are of course a variety of positive impacts on a worker’s wellbeing by continuing to work. For many the void or retirement simply isn’t for them. Working can provide a sense of purpose and direction, of motivation and routine – not to mention exercise, both mental and physical, depending on the role. The social aspect is very important to many people too.

The ‘great unretirement’ also keys into some important aspects of Career Evolution’s vocation. We work a great deal with people who are getting work-ready and getting used to entering (or re-entering) the jobs market or workplace once more. We guide our clients on using networks and keeping up-to-date on developments in their sectors. It’s always worth subscribing to newsletters, or retaining links to your sectors via networking or even socialising, just to keep up to speed on any new legislation or technological developments. In this way, it won’t be such as shock when you re-enter the working environment.

With the jobs market becoming particularly competitive, it’s more important than ever to gain an edge. By continuing to keep in touch with your network and being creative and flexible about what a career might look like, it will ensure that you are prepared – should you want to ‘unretire’ yourself and enter the world of work once more.

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

WELCOME TO OUR FOURTH 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 fourth vlog, our director, Sue Thomas, rounds up some of our posts from July, including developing your personal brand, portfolio careers, identifying transferable skills, and a case study with Peter McCarthy.

Watch the video below:

See our first vlog here, our second vlog here and our third vlog here.

Developing your personal brand

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Self-awareness is a wonderful thing, and we all know how we think we see ourselves. Perhaps we think we are confident, competent, decision-making leaders, with bags of energy and the ability to deal with any crisis life throws at us. Or maybe we’re mere mortals, not infallible, with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. But how do others see us – and do the two ‘images’ match up?

Clarity and consistency

Your personal brand is about clearly and consistently presenting who you are – your real strengths, true personality, character, attitudes and motivations – and the ability to articulate them concisely and with confidence. To create your personal brand, you need everyone to understand who you are, what you do, where you add value and why they might want to employ you.

A key factor of your brand is consistency. Every facet of your brand must add up – from your personality ‘in person’ in an interview or the workplace, with the contents of your CV, to your online presence, via social media, or a blog or website. There’s no point in presenting one viewpoint in your social media persona that completely contradicts your real views. Make sure too that your CV reinforces your beliefs and achievements, rather than disputing them. Remember, abilities, traits and qualities that should be highlighted in your profile should cover four key areas – Personal and Interpersonal skills, Organisational and Decision-making.

Being true to yourself

Your CV is a good place to start with creating your brand. Despite some companies using online application forms for job vacancies, a strong CV is just as important now as it always was. It allows you the time to think about your achievements and strengths, and quantify and present them in a coherent, striking way. They can also be easily adapted to form the basis of any kind of online application form, by tailoring the responses from your CV to fit each question.

It’s also useful to have various different edits of your profile. A short passage is always useful to have – the kind of 150–200-word paragraph you might be able to use at a networking session as an instant concise introduction. This should state clearly and simply ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do’. It should be something that is true to yourself and that you feel comfortable delivering in person – a reflection of you in a few words.

Two sides, one face

Play to your strengths and as much as possible, your work persona should complement your real personality. There’s no point in putting an act on at work that is difficult to maintain. You’ll constantly be thinking you mustn’t let your guard down, which most of us can never do. The two sides of your life – your work and your personal life – may be quite separate (that is, unless you run your own business!).  Ensuring that you include as much of your own personality into your ‘brand’ will make it easier for people to relate to you – and your sincerity will be rewarded with reciprocal honesty and trust.

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

Strength in depth – portfolio careers

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There’s a school of thought that a successful career involves securing a role in one sector at a time, with a steady career progression over a number of years. This linear approach is the most popular career path by far. Even if your role ends up being across different sectors, your job often remains the same. It offers a degree of security, but it also can narrow people’s vision in their career outlook. Nowadays, more and more people are embarking on careers that telescope various roles and clients together, so they are working in different roles across different sectors, from day to day.

Flexible and dexterous

So-called portfolio careers are something that are becoming more and more popular and are very appealing to some of our executive clients. You’ll carry out two, three or more roles, possibly across multiple sectors, but utilising your core skills as the vehicle to facilitate this. You have to be both flexible in how you allocate time and resources, and dexterous in your adaptability, thought process and approach. You never know what your working week will look like. You can have a roughed-out plan – of pre-arranged meetings for example – but around that framework you will need to be adaptable too.

What are the options?

The details of a portfolio career are something that you will need to spend time working out.  It may consist of different types of jobs including, for example, consultancy, non-executive directorships or project or interim management.  It may also involve unpaid, voluntary work.  Whatever the mix, it is important to take on work that is meaningful and rewarding to you as a career lifestyle choice.

Greater security?

Detractors point out that portfolio careers can be unstable and prone to disruption by outside factors – illness for example, or if you are working from home, daily life. However, a broad range of sectors often offers greater security too. If one sector – say, tourism or hospitality – is struggling, other sectors, e.g. construction, might be flourishing. The offset of one sector slowing down, is compensated by another bursting to life, with your workload ratio tweaked accordingly.

A range of skills

A good network of contacts is essential too, especially if your portfolio career is mostly you working solo. Networking is a great way to meet like-minded people and can be used to broaden your contacts in adjacent sectors. In this way, you might strengthen your portfolio, whilst also reaching out to companies you may be able to collaborate with. In this way, you can create a strong business offering – with for example freelance designers, accountants, writers – that is as formidable as any company.

Everyone’s different

The school of thought about portfolios was being popularised even before the pandemic. But since then, the changes that took place have made everyone think about how they work and run their businesses. The portfolio career is one that lends itself to working from home, where you can work for multiple clients using the same basic home office work set-up. The style of work is excellent for people who like to work in multiple sectors, are adaptable and like every day to be different. One day you might be working for a haulier, the next a computer retailer. The scope is limitless, as long as it fits your core skillset.

Making it work for you

You can also  be carrying out different roles for different companies, thereby widening you skillset and offering – you could be a marketer for various companies for two days per week, a researcher for another company for the other two days, and run a fitness and wellbeing course on the other weekday, or at weekends. This may allow you build up one area of your business – perhaps a private passion or hobby that would need time to strengthen and grow – while having the security of a regular income from established clients and stabilised sectors.

It’s well worth looking at portfolio careers and the possibilities they offer. If you have some ideas and think it could be for you, talk to one of our Career Consultants. We can offer guidance and advice on how to make this style of career work for you.

Hitting the transfer market – top tips for identifying transferable skills

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When we sit down and update our CVs, there’s always the opportunity to look at where our strengths and weaknesses lie. What are the areas we think are strong and promote our positive attributes, and where to we deem there could be room for improvement? While we’re looking at ways to strengthen our CV, it’s also worth exploring which areas could be highlighted and where our skills are not sector-specific. In this way, we can identify not only our strong points, but also our transferable skills and where they can take us. Here are some tips for identifying our skills that can be transferred across sectors.

Skills not sectors

One of the most important things to bear in mind with your CV or any job search is to focus on skills not sectors. Many of the skills learned from working in one industry can easily be transported over across multiple industries. Transferable skills allow you to widen your search for career advancement and diversification, in a myriad of different directions. Recognising these areas and identifying your skills allows you the flexibility to look outside the sector you are currently working in and apply for allied roles. It also allows you more choice, when searching job vacancies or discussing your options, so your perceived narrow choice is actually wider than you might initially think.

Transferable talent

If you have a proficiency for a specific area of business – to take some random examples, as a writer, an HR manager, or accountant – then these skills are readily transferable across a multitude of sectors. A skilled writer, for example, can work in a marketing role, or a journalistic one; they can create content for websites, or they can write books. They can in theory write about anything, so their core skill can be adapted into any industry. Accountants and statisticians too can also easily transfer across sectors – it’s the skill with figures that matters, not the issues being calculated. If you work in HR, then this is another role that can be transferred across sector boundaries. If you are able to manage human resources, you can use your skills to enhance efficiency, creativity and productivity, regardless of the business or industry involved.

Remember, most importantly, make your skills work for you to ensure the best outcome. A sideways switch to an allied sector may not always be obvious, so talking to someone like me or our Career Consultants at Career Evolution can help you identify areas for diversification and transfer. We can see where connecting lines can be established and where sectors and skills can be drawn together.

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

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.

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.