Let’s make 2022 a happy year

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A traditional toast is to ‘health, wealth and happiness’, three key elements to life for many people. As the clinking of glasses bringing in the new year fades into the distance, many people use this time as a fresh start and a time to set goals and make resolutions. Many of these focus around health and wealth, but what goals can we set ourselves to improve being happy?

Dr Anthony Clare, perhaps best remembered for presenting BBC Radio 4’s ‘In the Psychiatrist’s Chair’, devised his seven steps to happiness. And, as we start 2022, I thought it was a good time to share them.  Obviously, happiness is hard to quantify, but his tips might just give you something to think about.

Number one: cultivate a passion

I think this one is particularly important as if you have something you are passionate about, it helps you develop a positive mindset. This is very important, as it will help keep you focused on the good, when you are potentially facing challenges in other areas. Dr Clare also thought that to have something you enjoyed was a very important part in his model of happiness.

Number two: be a leaf on a tree

By this he means you need to be part of something bigger than yourself. A leaf separated from its tree has the advantage that it floats about a bit, but it’s disconnected, and it eventually dies. You have to be both an individual – to have a sense that you are unique, and you matter – and you need to be connected to a bigger organism – a family, a community, a network, a company. Building and maintaining your network – both from a personal and professional perspective is so important.

Number three: avoid introspection

The Christmas break is often a time of reflection and evaluation, and many people decide to start the process of a career change in the new year. However, Dr Clare advises on avoiding too much introspection, as people want to be around other people that are interested in things beyond themselves.

Number four: don’t resist change

Change is important. It is natural to be wary of change, but people who are fearful of change are rarely happy. Change can be positive and good for you. You need variety, flexibility, the unexpected because these things will challenge you.

Number five: live for the moment

Look at the things that you want to do, that you keep postponing. Dr Clare recommended doing what makes you happy. So, don’t postpone the things that you want to do, or what you think is worthwhile. Make them happen. From a professional point of view, think about what training you would like or what career move you want. What do you need to do to make this happen?

Number six: audit your happiness

We all find ourselves doing tasks that take time, but don’t necessarily provide benefits. Work out how much of each day you are spending doing things that don’t make you happy. If you find it is taking more than half of your time, then think about what you can do to change it.

Number seven: if you want to be happy, be happy

Act it, play the part, put on a happy face. Start thinking differently. If you are feeling negative, say, ‘I am going to be positive,’ and that can trigger a change in how you feel.

These seven steps won’t work for everyone, but being mindful of how you are feeling, specially as we head through January – often a tricky month anyway – may help you improve your happiness and approach the new year in a positive frame of mind.

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

Outplacement testimonial: Bridging the career gap between past and future

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When Catherine (name changed) started working with Career Evolution, we had to address the knock her confidence had taken before we could start working with her to find her next career move.

She explained:

“It has been a rollercoaster of a journey. Before I started working with Sue, I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong or why it was happening to me. I felt abandoned. Fortunately, the company I was working with agreed to provide outplacement support for me, and things started to improve once I met Sue.

“The first thing she had me do was understand my own individual story. She also worked with me to help me overcome the self-doubt I was experiencing and identify my skills and become confident in them again.

“Sue provided me with a framework for a structured approach. If being made redundant enables you to draft the next chapter of your life, then Sue is the editor reviewing it! She worked with me to sense check and edit everything that I was doing. She provided advice and definitely kept me action-focused and research-based.

“Throughout this time, Sue has been a consistent and constant presence. Basically, she has provided me with a bridge from the past to the future. Being made redundant is a difficult experience and moving on from that is a hard process. Sue has kept me accountable throughout – even when I didn’t want to be – and enabled me to articulate my own experience into chunks of knowledge and transferable skills I could use to position myself going forward.

“I think the biggest benefits of working with Career Evolution was that fact that Sue understands the rules and laws of getting a job. She can advise on the practicalities of fashioning your CV and approaching interviews, and how to leverage your network. She makes you really think about what you want to do next, and she allows you to truly believe in what you should be doing and the type of role you should be securing next.

“Don’t be fooled though. It isn’t Sue doing the work, it’s you! I found that I was at my desk for six hours a day or more– working hard! However, it worked. Within four months – of hard work – I secured a job that I am very excited to be starting in the new year. Sue’s work with me was invaluable. She really helped me get rid of the noise and find clarity.”

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

Interview you!

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We all know how important it is to be prepared for a job interview. Once upon a time, this involved making sure you knew where you were going, how you were going to get there, what you were going to wear and what you needed to prepare for the interview itself. However, today with the increasing use of technology and the greater levels of complexity brought about by Covid, going into an interview scenario can involve a little more preparation.

Well versed and well prepared

Preparation is the key to getting this right, whatever form your interview takes. Don’t be daunted and remember that nerves are natural; if we felt complacent, it would be a sign of not being engaged or really wanting to win the interview and get the job.

Virtually in real life

Although something that was already happening, certainly since the pandemic there has been a marked increase in interviews being carried out virtually and this is still very much the case despite relaxation and removal in some part of the UK of social distancing. Zoom and Teams have become such as fixture in the working world now, that it is natural that they are more frequently used for interviewing too.  If you are invited to interview via the screen, it is important that you attach the same level of gravitas to the situation as you would for an in-person interview. You still need to prepare and turn up on time, dressed appropriately for the interview.

Your interviewer might only be able to see you from the chest up, but it is recommended to dress as though you are in the room with them. What you are wearing and how you are feeling come across to the other person, even when the conversation is carried out online. Clients I have worked with have felt substantially better when dressed appropriately from head to toe, including putting their shoes on.  Check your equipment is working properly before the meeting and that your backdrop is suitably professional too – even if you are working from your kitchen or spare room. While there is some leniency for technical problems, childcare issues and animal invasions, can take you off your guard.

Bringing it face-to-face

In person interviews are on the rise now, and even if your first interview is via a screen, there is a good chance your second interview might be face-to-face. If this is the case, make the most of being in the same room as the person – or panel – carrying out the interview, as you will find it much easier to get your personality across and hopefully connect with them. With the ongoing restrictions around the pandemic, make sure you follow current rules and also keep within the parameters you feel comfortable with.  While elbow bumps might work for some people, if you don’t feel comfortable shaking hands at the moment, you don’t need to feel compelled to do so.

Smile and enjoy!

As daunting as the interview process can be, a big part of the process is about seeing if you fit with the company culture – and if the company culture fits with you. Smile, be friendly and be your authentic self. Your work is a big part of your life, so it makes sense to find an organisation that suits you.

If you would like to find out how we can help, please contact us today.

Stronger together – mergers and acquisitions

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There’s a lot for businesses to take in at the moment. The autumn is traditionally a very busy time of year for many companies, with the end of the summer holiday season and the rush to get everything completed before that next big deadline – Christmas. Due to all the hectic activity, it’s sometimes difficult to focus on looking ahead while you’re in the vortex of the here and now. But it’s important to look to the future and plan out ways to ensure resilience against challenges that are no doubt on the horizon. Currently there is a lot of mergers and acquisitions activity in the marketplace.

Championing change

The logistics of two companies blending into one by whatever means is a challenge for HR managers and employees alike. Whenever mergers and acquisitions (M&As) take place, there is always upheaval. This disturbance can bring with it its own challenges – changes that will have to be navigated by all parties.

Keeping all employees updated with the latest communications is important and identifying Change Ambassadors, representing different parts of the business can prove very effective.  If clear benefits can be seen and demonstrated, staff will generally be more onside. Sharing information throughout the company is key to this and transparency between management levels must be maintained. This will engender trust and provide everyone with a clear picture of the state of play. As mergers and acquisitions take place, progress can be fast or slow – but whatever the pace, it will bring with it change and your company should be prepared for it when it happens.

Now’s the time to futureproof

At Career Evolution, we can help you, your HR managers and employees navigate the turmoil that often surrounds large scale business changes. Our Consultants and Coaches can help you find the right balance of intervention from ‘Navigating Change Workshops’, identifying and supporting the role of Change Ambassadors, and, if roles are made redundant, support those individuals at all levels who will have to exit the business.

If you would like to find out how we can help, please contact us today.

No-fly zone: can things return to normal when things still aren’t?

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Employers and employees are currently moving through unchartered territories.  As the working world tries to return to a semblance of normal, there are constant obstacles to enabling this to happen.  Whether it’s the conversation around return to the office vs. working from home, or the expectation of face-to-face meetings and live events returning, just how can businesses return to ‘normal’, when the situation still isn’t?

Mixed messages

Much of the pandemic has been filled with mixed messages and employees can be forgiven for being confused about what is wanted or expected from them. In addition, these expectations are now sometimes at odds with what people have got used to or feel comfortable with. While there is no right answer to these issues, one of the most important things as an employer you can do now, is try and ensure your business expectations are clearly communicated and that the opportunity for discussion is available to your entire team.

Changing policies

Compounding the uncertainty is the very recent introduction of new policies for employees, including the right to request remote or flexible working from their first day of employment. These new rights provide a positive move forward for employees balancing work life and home life, and their introduction has been promoted widely. However, the criteria on which employers can agree or refuse a request to work remotely are less clear, which if not handled correctly, has the potential to lead to further uncertainty, misunderstandings and resentment.

Travel bans

The confusion continues when you look at the scenario of face-to-face meetings, events and traveling for work. Again, this is creating confusion and consternation for employers and employees alike. The pandemic has shown that technology can enable close collaboration without leaving your home, but there are still many situations where in-person meetings are incredibly valuable.

While some companies still have blanket travel bans in place – which, ostensibly is for the safety of their employees, but is also in fact saving the business substantial amounts of money in terms of time, travel, accommodation and subsistence – others are pushing their teams to do more than what they necessarily feel comfortable with. Again, there isn’t a clear-cut solution to. Government guidance is ambiguous and business needs differ from company to company.

Finding your way in the ‘new normal’

It is easy to get lost in the economic, health, and ethical decisions of the current business landscape. In truth, the ultimate outcome to this new ‘normal’ may well turn out to be a compromise – a hybrid solution that takes all the different elements into consideration. However, one thing is certain, open communication with your team is crucial to enabling you to find your way through the maze and discover the right balance for both the business and the individual.

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

Preparing for the end of furlough

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The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) comes to an end on 30 September 2021. This has provided a lifeline for many businesses and their employees over the last 18 months and furlough’s imminent finish will be a source of much trepidation and further uncertainty for anyone involved.

What happens now?

Businesses are now faced with the difficult process of ensuring their teams are aware of the situation and understand what happens next. While the scheme has ensured the continued employment for many people throughout the pandemic, its conclusion may mark the start of a different story.

We have had a look at the Government’s advice so far, and would like to share some of the advice provided by HMRC:

What should my business do when the scheme closes?

When furlough comes to an end, you will need to decide on one of three courses of action for employees that have not been working:

  • Bring your employees back to work on their agreed terms and conditions,
  • Agree any changes to their terms and conditions with them, or
  • Consider ending their employment.

However, it is very important to remember, that when making decisions about how and when to end furlough arrangements, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

When is my businesses last claim for the CJRS?

The last day that your business will be able to claim for is 30th September. Final claims for September must be submitted by Thursday 14th October.

Can I claim CJRS for employees on notice periods?

No. Employers cannot claim CJRS grants for any days an employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period, including notice of retirement, resignation or redundancy.

If you do need to make any roles redundant, you must remember that normal redundancy rules and protections apply to furloughed employees.

Restructuring and redundancy can be an extremely difficult time for both employees and employers.

At Career Evolution, we are keen to help make the transition as painless as possible for everyone. If you would like to find out how we can help, please contact us today.

Recognising success – beating imposter syndrome

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Having an external opinion in the world of business is invaluable and this is where career transition and specialist career success management can help. Over the years, I have encountered many clients who have suddenly been faced with job loss and given outplacement to support them in their transition. They have been unprepared to be in the situation and perhaps haven’t looked at themselves and their role with any real clarity for a long time – if ever.

In our initial meeting, my clients are often having a bit of a crisis of confidence. Their attitude is: “‘I’ll never get another job at this level” or at the other extreme, “How did I ever get a job at this level?” This is especially true of long-serving people, who have been in the same role or company for many years.

The full picture

We begin by looking both at the future – where they would like to see themselves – and the past. We’ll take an overview of their career, a retrospective of their achievements and use this to create a really strong CV and clear career path to embark on. By recognising their strengths and success, they can see the reasons why they held such a role and how their talents are ideally suited to what they want to achieve.

Making a transition

Another way imposter syndrome can strike is when people say “I’m just a…” or “I’m only a…” and degrade what they’ve achieved. If you are, for example, ‘only’ an accountant or copywriter, you can work in literally any sector. Transition to other sectors can be one of the most beneficial moves anyone can make in their careers. Of course, the key to unlocking such progressions is transferable skills. For example, an accountant can work within any large organisation that has a finance department, while a copywriter can provide writing on any subject they can carry out research on.  I get my clients to look at the skills that they use in their role every day and ask themselves the open question – “How many jobs does this role cover?” And then, “How many sectors can these talents be transferred to?” The answer for most roles will be dozens.

The key to success

That is the beginning of recognising that success and flair doesn’t restrict ambitions but enhances them. It’s important to remember that imposter syndrome operates only in an individual’s own mind. If you can acknowledge what you have achieved and define your best qualities, you’ll never say “I’m just a….” ever again.

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

New role? How to have it all!

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Imagine the scenario. You have been offered a new role – or perhaps you just want to renegotiate the terms of your current job. Many people find it difficult to broach the subject of what they really want from a job, and rarely do two parties have exactly the same concept of what is fair, acceptable or derisory. So, having broached the subject, do you know how to approach negotiating a good deal for yourself?

Clean slate

If you are new to the company and the role, it is probably easier to set out your stall from the outset. You’ll have a benchmark of your previous roles, but you will also have a blank slate when it comes to negotiating style and position. You’ll probably have had plenty of time in the last 12-to-18 months to think about work and life. If you have been working from home, you may have discovered this is something you’d like to continue. Or if you’ve missed coming into the office, this might be something you’d like to resume. These aspects need to be discussed with your employer, as part of your long-term career development and package. But you also need to know and understand how you would like to live your life.

Take a pragmatic approach

For realistic negotiations, you need to be pragmatic in your demands and expectations. Your lifestyle is important, especially from a mental health point of view. There’s no point is working for a company you loath, in a role you dislike. But your discussion with your employer should also be balanced against your business self. What do you bring to the table? What are your strengths and what makes you unique and invaluable to your company? And most of all, does your employer agree with your summation?

Presenting your business case

When you open a discussion about terms and conditions, including salary, you must be prepared to state a realistic business case. This needs to be primarily focused on business need, rather than personal preference. It might be beneficial to seek out some advice to do this, from someone such as a career Consultant, which can help you outline how you’d like to handle the situation and your attitude to it.

A fresh pair of eyes can look at your current position and identify where your strong points and positions of strength for negotiation lie. Discussing them openly with a career expert will also give you a chance to rehearse your approach – in this was there will more chance you will be successful in your bid. Being confident in what you’d like the outcome to be and having realistic expectations will make you better placed to discuss and negotiate. It will also give you a more compelling case going forward, to realise your ambitions within the company.

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

Note to self – you’re a success

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In the next few weeks, our new Career Evolution A5 notebooks are being sent out to all our new clients. We have always found it useful to have a notebook on hand, that is solely devoted to a single subject – your career progression and all that relates to it. By having all that information in one place, you can refer to it easily.  Hopefully the mere presence of the notebook will encourage our clients to make notes, which can be retained and reread for future reference. If you encounter a challenge in your career that you have faced before, perhaps you have made notes and commented on it in the past. This accumulated knowledge will end up being invaluable to you in the long-term.

The write stuff

With so much work done these days on computers, phones and digitally, it’s rare and refreshing for some people to put pen to paper. In fact, when it comes to having to write notes out longhand, it’s almost become a lost art, so used have we become to typing and keying in words. For some, indeed most these days, it’s become complete second nature to type rather than write – and the thought process linked to writing, to being creative, is entirely enmeshed in the typing process. But it’s also important to retain skills like writing by hand. If you write for a living, you probably use a mixture of both. It’s easier to take notes longhand on a notepad when you’re interviewing someone over the phone, for example – most people type two-handed, but write with only one.

When it comes to devoting time to writing for yourself, the act of writing makes you think slightly differently to someone typing. Putting pen to paper gives you more time to compose, to think about what you want to say, as ink isn’t as easy to erase as the delete button a keyboard. Digital text documents can be updated to reflect today, but earlier drafts – which may contain an occasional nugget of observation – are lost forever. Not so with pen and ink.

When writing longhand, you may want to draft it out first. But if you’re jotting down thoughts and observations in a notebook, you also tend to go with your gut feelings – and often this results in more honesty. It doesn’t matter if there’s crossings out and scribbles, it’s for your own use and should be treated as such, not something to be published or seen by others.

Duly noted

In our Career Evolution notebooks, you should take notes during your job search and subsequently when you are in your new role. You can keep notes on where you’ve been successful and include positives about the role, but also be honest and comment on possible negatives too. In this way you can keep making a note of your successes, achievements and experiences. It’s not so much diarising your career, but it is worth it, from time to time, to just stop and look at where you are and how you are feeling about your work. Like a diary though, it’s private, so you it should be a true reflection of you and your career path.

It’s also useful to start using the notebook when you are at the beginning of a new role, or even just in appraisals and conversations with your manager. Listing out what you’d like to discuss in a review can form part of your groundwork for an appraisal meeting, and the outcomes can be duly noted alongside your preparation – with ideally some of your ambitions countered with some constructive results. If you like, you can divide the notebook into subsections relating to different aspects of your career, such as CV updates, interview techniques, ambitions, advice – in much the same way as our own Career Evolution notebooks.

If you are a new Career Evolution client, look out for your notebooks arriving soon. If you are one of our valued current or past clients and would like a notebook too, please contact Sue Thomas via email, Twitter or LinkedIn with your address details and we will send one out to you. Hopefully you’ll have some positive observations and thoughts to write down, when you put pen to paper. Happy scribbling!

Your trusted colleague

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Company changes and restructuring can sometimes lead to senior executives being offered outplacement support to help them recognise what they want next out of their career. No matter how senior a person is, it’s important to remember that everyone needs someone to hold them to account. Outplacement is much more than just ensuring your CV and interview skills are up to scratch.  Outplacement specialists like Career Evolution actually take the time to match you with a Consultant that not only has the necessary skills and experience to help you, but also has the right chemistry to work with you and get the best out of you too.

Knowing me, knowing you

Our expert Consultants have many years’ experience of all kinds of outplacement support and are also able to look at things from a holistic viewpoint, tailoring the service they provide to meet your individual requirements. We can provide the ongoing support and challenge to senior people, who are going through outplacement. In fact, clients in the past have described us as their ‘trusted colleague.’ Someone that ‘gets it’ and isn’t wary of holding them to account – in a positive way of course.

The independent nature of using an outplacement Consultant not only provides a fresh perspective, but it also means you are working with someone that know about you and understands what you are trying to achieve.

An independent eye

There is a natural assumption that if you are operating successfully in a senior role, then it stands to reason that your CV and interview skills will be equally impressive. However, all too often, this really isn’t the case.  In all likelihood, if you have been in your role for some time, then your CV may be out-of-date in terms of content, layout and approach. Reorganising your CV to adequately highlight your achievements is imperative, and our Consultants can help you to create an up-to-date CV that will be attractive to prospective employers. Sharpening your interview skills is also time very well spent. Your Consultant will also ensure that you are leveraging your network – both in person and online – and will help you make the most of your LinkedIn profile too.

Managing the marketplace

If we assume that CV and interview skills are sorted, managers might still be out of touch of what the marketplace is actually looking for. Being able to identify opportunities and demonstrate how a person can fit the criteria to find their perfect job is one of the most important roles an outplacement advisor can fulfil. When it comes to periods of transition, having a Consultant that you trust is crucial to ensuring your next step is the right one.

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