Making the right decisions

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As an HR professional, choosing an Outplacement company to work with can be a difficult decision. It’s very dependent on what your company is like and in which areas it needs guidance. As the commissioning client, you should be given the opportunity to get to know your chosen outplacement Consultant. In turn, they should take the time to ask you about the issues and individuals involved, as well as giving a full explanation of the process and how they treat people. Knowledge and experience are crucial, and a good consultancy will have accrued a great deal of both over the years. Selecting the outplacement company that is suited to your needs is one of the biggest challenges facing HR professionals. You don’t want to find yourself wasting time and money, so choosing one that is a good match is paramount.

Mapping the road ahead

A good approach to outplacement is to allow a Consultant to initially spend some time with the company or individual, so they can get to know each other and discuss how to work together. We offer outplacement recipients an introductory session, lasting up to a hour, to explain what we do and importantly talk through their career to date. The process is two-way, so it’s worth communicating from the outset, openly and honestly. Once you’ve found an approach that will work, outplacement programmes have a variety of collateral benefits that are part of the discussion and coaching process.

To give just one example, if an individual is assessing where they currently are with their career and where they would like to be, it’s a good idea to build and strengthen their CV and LinkedIn profiles. These are useful tools in making someone more attractive for employers and allows the showcasing of strengths and knowledge in a positive way. It’s also worth taking time to map out some other areas that will be looked at, such as opportunities to practice interview skills. It might be that the Consultant also explores further avenues, including self-employment, contracting, interim and perhaps Non-Executive Directorships. Strategy and review are vital ongoing components to ensure an individual keeps on the right track and feels supported while they are doing it.

Getting along together

One of the most gratifying aspects of being a Consultant is when clients realise how much they are getting out the process and relationship. The ideal scenario will result in the candidates getting on well with their Consultant on a personal level as well as a professional level, thereby building a rapport. At Career Evolution, we have always worked on a holistic basis, to help support our clients and ensure that our outplacement candidates not only get the right job, but also one that will suit their preferred lifestyle.

This is where getting to know your clients will really pay dividends. As times and work patterns have changed, we have all realised that the daily commute and  9-to-5 work patterns needn’t be the norm. Many factors have changed people’s expectations of work-life balance and what they hope to achieve to fulfil their career. A good relationship between Consultant and client will enhance this – so it’s all about making the right choice in the first instance. That initial decision can make all the difference in the long run.

If you’d like to learn more about outplacement and how it can help your business, then contact one of our outplacement Consultants today. [link]


Mind your language

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I’m at an age where I’ve seen a lot of differences in language and word interpretation, some that are absolutely too rude or shocking to write down. I worked with an AI organisation about 20 years ago, but it didn’t have anything to do with artificial intelligence and everything to do with artificial insemination. These days, things should be simpler, as people can express themselves and be themselves much more easily – and hopefully with greater acceptance. But because of multiple meanings and interpretations, it can make it difficult for some people to communicate, for fear of getting things wrong and offending others.

I do find that it’s useful to make it clear to people that I may not know all the terms people are using or that I understand them, for example within an LGBTQ+ context. But I would like to ask questions, if they are happy with that, so I can learn. I also do always emphasise that if I do get anything wrong, it isn’t malicious or intended to offend. Many terms may be open to interpretation and it is often the case that not everyone can be familiar with every single term that is the acceptable one. The reverse is also true and many words that were perfectly acceptable for many years now have very negative connotations, for example around gender or culture. It is important to ensure that – especially in business – you create an inclusive, friendly environment.

A welcoming place

The inclusivity aspect is perhaps the most important aspect of working environment culture these days. So much has been spoken about remote working, the fear of returning to working premises again and the many barriers to getting people back into the office and collaborating in person once again. Workplace culture has to be welcoming and inclusive, and the way everyone speaks to one another is key to this – friendly language, the correct terms and amiable but professional behaviour. In this way, companies can be inclusive and tolerant, as well as efficient and productive.

The art of language can be difficult, but it should never become a barrier.  As somebody who speaks and writes to people daily, I don’t want to be stymied or constricted for fear of offence. Until you are fully aware of someone’s circumstances, particularly online, then it may be easy to cause unintentional offence – this may be most apparent with the many different terms for gender currently in use, for instance, and their preferred pronouns.

Open to interpretation

On the flipside, I find many people in Gen Z, for example, don’t know the terms that they use freely now were actually offensive back in the 1980s. It’s all about context too and tone of voice. If it’s obvious something has been said in jest, it’s often masked or excused as ‘banter’. But if someone takes offence at something that has been said entirely inadvertently, then it is hoped that a genuine error can be acknowledged. It’s important in these circumstances that the same mistake isn’t made again and that lessons are learned. Language can be a minefield and of course, in business, you’re not necessarily working with people you know well. It’s a learning curve, but one that will ensure that the true meaning of what we want to say is articulated in the way we want to say it.


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Welcome to the latest vlog from Career Evolution!

We are continuing to share weekly advice and updates from the industry on outplacement, career management, and coaching.

In our latest vlog, our director, Sue Thomas, rounds up some of our posts from June, including the number of names in her role as an outplacement consultant and supporting her son through LinkedIn connections.

Watch the video below:

What’s in a name?

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Many people put a lot of stock into job titles and descriptions, and over the years we have seen the introduction of some interesting – and sometimes surprising – new job titles, from Metaverse Storyteller, through to Adventure Coach and Chief Disruption Officer. The list of new and fascinating job titles is endless and limited only by imagination or a need for the particular role.

A rose by any other name?

As an outplacement Consultant, my role is fundamentally to help you find a new job. But it’s not just about writing or rewriting your CV, the relationship between Client and Consultant is critical to the success of the endeavour. Working with people, who are often faced with a situation they haven’t chosen, can sometimes be difficult. It is important that we take the time to get to know each other, and that they trust me. That way, I am able to challenge them, to really understand what they have achieved and what they want to do next.

Over the years, I’ve been called a number of names in my role, some more favourable than others! My favourites, which I feel sum up the part I play, are Critical Colleague, Thought Friend, My Guru, and possibly my all-time favourite, the Career Whisperer.

Getting to the heart of it

While being challenged can sometimes be uncomfortable, the ultimate outcome is usually impressive – and sometimes unexpected – and enables my clients to identify, find and secure their next position. It’s always been a delight to get positive feedback that recognises the benefits of removing the staccato mechanics of job search, to concentrate on ‘people liking people’, making good connections and getting great results.

If you would like to find out more about corporate outplacement, visit

Changing direction: identifying transferable skills for a new career

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A change of career direction does not always have to mean a new job in the same industry – or even a better job, but still in the same industry. If you are looking for a whole new career, then it’s worth looking to see if your skill set is easily transferable across sectors. There are many job roles which can easily transfer to a totally different sector, and while there will be new terminology and processes to learn, your core skills will still stand you in good stead to find your feet in this new environment.

Why change sector?

If a change of career comes off the back of redundancy, a Career Consultant can work with you and help you recognise that maybe you are ready for a change. They say that ‘a change is as good as a rest’, and changing industries might be all you need to reignite your love of your job. There are lots of fascinating industries out there, and you might find it more fulfilling to be doing the accounts for a charity than for a manufacturing company. Or it might be more exciting to be doing the marketing for a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company than a risk management business. Whatever sector interests you, you should be able to position yourself for the move.

Focus on your skills

If a change of sector appeals, then it is important that your CV reflects your core skills and achievements, rather than anything too specific to the industry you currently work in. Many of the skills learned from working in one industry can easily be transported over across multiple industries, and 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.

A sideways switch

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, but as part of outplacement, a Career Consultant can help you identify areas for diversification and transfer. They will help you see where connecting lines can be established and where sectors and skills can be drawn together.


Time for change

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We all have a work persona, whether we acknowledge it or not. But with WFH so prevalent, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between your true self and your ‘work self’. The same is correct when it comes to making decisions about your career path and your future. Are you self-aware enough to identify where your future lies?  Are spending less time in the office, but working as many hours from home? Have you got a work-life balance that suits you? Or would it be beneficial for you to be in the office more?

WFH doesn’t suit everyone. Perhaps a move towards a more office-based culture would be a better fit. This is certainly true in creative industries, where collective thinking and collaboration are vital ingredients. And of course, not everyone has had a say in whether they work from home. If the balance isn’t suiting you, then perhaps it’s time for a change.

A fresh outlook

Don’t wait for a formal review to speak to your manager about your development. These conversations should be woven into formal and informal discussions throughout the year.  Discuss with your manager to ensure they are aware of your feelings and areas you would like to develop or change if possible.

However, if you are reviewing your career due to redundancy, don’t forget to ask your employer to fund outplacement. This will give you access to a professional Career Consultant to discuss and identify your options and how to achieve them. This might be in the same sector you occupy now, or it may be an allied industry – or a new area entirely. A Career Consultant will be able to identify aspects such as transferable skills, that can be deployed in an adjacent sector. They may also be able to steer you towards something you find more fulfilling or into a sector where the demand for new employees and thinking is high.

Taking control

Successful career management means taking control. The old notion of a career being a continued upward progression and of ‘jobs for life’ is one that doesn’t really sit with today’s workplace. People move around, roles and technology evolve, so sometimes you have to retrain just to keep up with modern working methods. Also, with remote working, the world’s literally your oyster when it comes to working locations. A Career Consultant can help you to identify what is most important to you, to prioritise your ambitions and analyse your skills. They can also look at aligning your goals with a work-life balance you would prefer – wherever you choose to work.

Speaking your language

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There is more to being a success at job interviews than simply having a good CV and the right skills. Whether you are attending an in-person interview or a remote one, you want to create the right impression and make sure your interviewer/s are impressed by your presence and personality. You want to be an appealing prospect, when it comes to someone they would want to work and collaborate with. Also important are the many verbal and nonverbal cues that are a result of body language in interviews.

Body language is how you hold yourself, your posture and demeanour, how you are subconsciously communicating with people and your ease with the environment around you. It’s what you say about yourself without speaking, if that makes sense. If you are naturally relaxed, even in stressful situations, you’re halfway there. Eye contact and a natural smile – not a pasted-on grin – are also big positives. But if you’re tapping your fingers, biting you nails or picking your nose, you might as well forget about whatever else you may offer your perspective employer. You are less likely to get the job.

Making a good impression

Here are some of my tips on how to be a natural interviewee. Try and make a good impression from the off. Think about what you’re going to wear beforehand and don’t wear something you’ve never worn before. Make sure you are comfortable – you don’t want to be distracted by a tight waistband or pinching shoes – but also smart. Be confident in your introductions and try to relax and be yourself. First impressions do count, so try to make a good one. 

Be natural

When you’re actually in the interview make eye contact and be responsive – nod that you’ve listened and understood, ask questions if given the opportunity, and make it a two-way conversation as far as the limitations of an interview allows. Be personable and likeable too and try to smile as part of your general demeanour. Sit up and don’t slouch and if possible don’t gesticulate too much. If you are someone who finds yourself waving your hands about when you speak, practice trying to reduce this. It’s okay up to a point, but can become distracting. Think about each question before responding and speak clearly and concisely, so the interviewer can hear your responses. Don’t mumble or speak too quickly, as this will feed into your own nervousness or even panic, if you get out of breath. And make sure you round things off nicely at the end of the interview – reinforce your enthusiasm for the role and your suitability for it.

Practice makes perfect

It’s a bit like public speaking. If you’re not naturally a relaxed person in this situation then the best thing you can do is practice. Get a friend or colleague to rehearse some questions with you and mock-up an interview situation. The more second-nature this becomes, the calmer you’ll be in the real situation. Get used to the sound of your own voice and how you can seem more confident by using a calm approach. Think about all the aspects I’ve outlined above – it will go towards making that next interview a whole lot easier.


Finding your balance

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Like so much in life, finding the right balance in work is so important. I was listening to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana recently, and when Kurt Cobain sings the line, ‘I’m worse at what I do best’, it really struck a chord with me. My interpretation is that those things that we enjoy and do best can become out of balance and take over our lives. This got me thinking and relating it to the workplace. Do you find you are giving too much of yourself to work or spending too much time in the office? It is important that you recognise if you are, as this is no good for family life and it is vital that you maintain a decent work/life balance.

Time management

Your work is important, but so too is your life outside work. By spending too long stuck at your desk or focusing on work means that you might be missing out on important stuff with family or friends, outside of the work environment. Also, long hours don’t necessarily mean high performance. They might actually mean you are not focusing on what is most important. It is worth remembering that the important and urgent tasks need to be done with alacrity, but there are also the important but non-urgent jobs, which can be scheduled in for a convenient time. And don’t forget, there are also the non-urgent, non-important jobs that perhaps don’t actually need to be done at all – or possibly delegated to someone else in the team.

Learning to say no

It is an important skill to learn how to say no. This doesn’t need to be seen as rude or unhelpful. However, if you are too busy – or not the best person for the job – most people would rather you highlighted this, than take on something that someone else would be better doing. By saying no, but offering a better solution, not only are you not taking on unnecessary work, but you are solving a problem too.

Manage expectations

Where you do take on additional work, there is a lot of sense in outlining – realistically – when this can be completed by. By setting out what you can do by when, you are ensuring that you are providing clear information and people know the situation. If you can’t make a deadline without working until midnight, make sure you inform the person that asked you to do the work. This allows the opportunity to redistribute the work if necessary.

With the advent of remote working, it is all too easy for people to be putting in additional hours without the knowledge or support of their team. Even if you are enjoying it, it is important to make sure you have the support you need in place.


Who makes it into your Personal Boardroom?

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Everyone likes a good read. It’s even more gratifying if the good read can feed into your career and personal life. I recently read a book that I really enjoyed that is actually about a subject very close to home. The book was titled Who is In Your Personal Boardroom?. It was co-written by Zella King and Amanda Scott. It was recommended to me by a client and is well worth going through, to formally identify those people who can make a difference to you in different segments of your life.

Choosing people, assigning roles and having conversations with purpose

The book’s full title is Who is in your Personal Boardroom?: How to choose people, assign roles and have conversations with purpose. It’s objective is to provide ‘A practical way to build the network you need to succeed.’ As the blurb states: “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. But when did you last think about who exactly that is, and whether you’ve got the right people around you? How do you know how to select, from your network, the right combination of people to help you be truly effective as a leader and in your career? Drawing on their work with executives and on academic research on the networks of high performers, Zella King and Amanda Scott show how to home in on the six to 12 relationships that drive and sustain success.”

Finding your touchstones

I found it to be a great read and it made me think too. The people the authors identify from different points in your life can be those that inspire you, give you courage, or are experts who share their knowledge. They can also be ‘connectors’ who help you make connections. I have used it to identify businesspeople in my life that add value. I have found I have a few ex-clients who fall into some of these categories – they know who they are. The criteria can be extended to your personal life too. Where do you find your energy and touchstones when you need them? The people you rely on, the people you can simply chat to, or share problems with.

You need that level of support throughout your life. Good, supportive friends are not always easily found. Personally, when I have a quandary, I have a family member who I also talk through sensitive issues with. This helps make sure I create a ‘win-win’ situation, or at least not offend anybody. I found the book to be a real gem and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in creating their own Personal Boardroom. It’s made me look at my networks and relationships from a completely different perspective.

Preparing for your interview – top tips for getting interview ready

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Like all aspects of the working environment over the last couple of years, interviews have changed due to circumstances. Not too long ago, the interview process would be predominantly an in-person affair, if the job was within travelling distance and visiting the premises was permitted. Interview preparation would consist of rehearsing your responses and making sure your appearance and demeanour would elicit the right reaction from your prospective employer.

Changing times

But interviews for jobs further afield – in other countries or sometimes on the other side of the world – have always relied on more remote methods. Due to the pandemic, social distancing and the rise of work from home, there are many more opportunities now for interviews to take place over the phone or onscreen over the internet, via such platforms as Skype or Zoom. It has also become much more commonplace for employees not to meet their work colleagues until much further down the line now, rather than in a training or induction period.

Achievements and ambitions

Whatever the media of communication, your preparation should be largely the same. Anyone preparing for an interview should be confident about who they are. Appearance and first impressions matter, so think about what you are going to wear – and how you will appear onscreen if the interview is remote, or in person, if you are attending a formal interview. If you are having an interview over the phone, it’s very difficult to create a fully-rounded impression of who you are. Sometimes however, phone interviews are ideal for complete impartiality when it comes to hiring new employees – without appearance, age, ethnicity or even name taken into account.

Make sure you are completely up-to-date with your CV and that it’s an accurate reflection of your abilities and career. Also ensure that you can talk knowledgeably and enthusiastically about your achievements and ambitions.  Don’t over-egg the enthusiasm or ambition, but be honest and define where you’d like to see yourself in the future. Think about how you can best phrase your responses.

Be prepared and be confident

Interviewees should have conviction in their abilities and play to their strength, whilst if they have to, also acknowledging their weaknesses. One of the curveballs thrown by interviewers these days is a question like: “Can you identify your weaknesses?”, with the stock, instinctive, usually untruthful reply being: “I don’t have any”. Being able to identify where you may have room for improvement isn’t doing yourself a disservice, but rather demonstrating self-awareness.

Experience and a broad range of interests beyond your chosen field of work are often as important as qualifications and ability. Being able to connect with people on different levels, across different subjects, will demonstrate that you are a great communicator. Talking  knowledgably about a range of subjects and with passion, can show an interviewer there is more you than your CV may indicate. It’s easier said than done, but try not to be too nervous and try to answer any questions as succinctly as possible. If you are uncertain how your responses sound, record your voice and listen to what phrases work best for you.

All this preparation will go towards making sure you give your interviewer a fully-rounded snapshot of your personality and abilities – and your best shot at landing the role.