Confidence Boost

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Even the most confident person can feel a little daunted by the prospect of a formal interview. In today’s hybrid working environment, your job interview is as likely to be carried out online, via a conference facility, as it is to be in person. Whichever way the interview is taking place, there are various things you can do to help boost your confidence and remove some of the nerves ahead of time.

Finding your own way

If your interview is in person, take the time beforehand to find out where you are going and how you are getting there. This means if you are driving, do a practice run. If you are taking public transport, make sure you know where your stop is and how to reach your destination in plenty of time. If your interview is online, make sure you have tested out your equipment in advance, particularly your camera and your microphone. Make sure you also have somewhere tidy and quiet to do the interview where you won’t be disturbed. Knowing where you are going – or how you IT works – will help calm the nerves on the day.

Be prepared

Do your research ahead of your interview. Find out what you can about the company you are interviewing with, what the job is and who your interviewers are.   I’m often asked if it’s appropriate to look at their LinkedIn profiles and I think it’s a very positive thing to do. It shows that you are taking a keen interest to find out about them.  It’s also an opportunity to see if you have any shared contacts or past experience.

Whilst you can find out a lot of company information by visiting the website you should also google whether there is anything in the press that’s current.  Websites aren’t always up-to-date. The more you know about the company and people you will be meeting, the less unknowns you will be faced with on the day. Also think about what you are going to say, how you will answer questions and what questions you want to ask in the interview too. Don’t forget, an interview is a two-way process and an opportunity for you to find out if the company is one you would like to work for.

Dress for success

Whether you interview is in person or on-line it is important to dress appropriately. While this no longer necessarily means a suit and tie, you should still be tidy and smart. If you are looking good, then you will feel better about yourself too.

Lucky charm

You might have a routine or an item that you feel brings you luck. Don’t worry if you don’t, just remember to smile, it’s the only lucky charm you really need! A well as having the necessary knowledge and being able to answer the questions in an interview, a genuine smile, and a friendly but professional approach, will all help position you as the best candidate for the role.

Interviews can be nerve wracking and feeling a little bit nervous can be a good thing, as it suggests that you are keen and interested in the role. However, the more you can do to prepare ahead of your interview, the more confident you will be on the day. Good luck!

Standing out from the crowd: leisure activities, volunteering and more

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How to make your CV stand out from the crowd is an age-old challenge and there are a number of different ways in which it can be achieved. One area that is sometimes overlooked or even rejected is the ‘Interests’ section, where you can list any volunteering or hobbies you enjoy. Some people fear that including these may look slightly frivolous or irrelevant, but actually this can be an invaluable opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer.

Opening up the conversation

Showing that you have hobbies and interests that you enjoy reveals to potential employers that you are a well-rounded person, and forms a short but important last section on your CV. They can provide a great topic of conversation at your interview. In fact, they may reveal far more about your personality than you realise. If you say you regularly play football or netball for example, that can be interpreted as your being a good team player, who likes being with a group. On the other hand, if you say you like going to the gym, that could imply that you are self-motivated, and goal orientated. An avid gamer is probably good with computers and may be quite introverted. A crossword enthusiast will be analytical, with good problem-solving skills.

Make it specific

Hobbies shouldn’t be written in a generic, nondescript way though.  If you enjoy reading, say what genre you prefer – sci-fi, mediaeval history, biographies etc. If it’s walking, describe the type of walking you do – for example, the Wainwright Way to differentiate from an evening stroll – and promote more interest.

A common denominator

Over the years, I’ve had some great conversations with clients who have told me about their interests and it’s amazing how often these coincidence with my own – a number of times people have been surprised when they’ve told me about their martial arts qualifications, and I’ve shared that I’m a practising Taekwondo black belt.  Similarly, talking about the type of travel you enjoy will engage the reader – or interviewer – particularly if it refers to a part of the world that they are familiar with or want to visit too.

 

 

WELCOME TO OUR LATEST VLOG!

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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 August, including top tips for keeping relevant on LinkedIn. There’s so much more to this platform than job searching.

Watch the video below:

Watch last month’s vlog here.

Getting the best out of outplacement

It might seem obvious to say it, but what you get out of outplacement has a direct correlation with what you put in.  it’s a bit like joining a gym. It’s not enough to sign up for it, you actually have to use the equipment, join the classes and focus on your nutrition too. OK, so we aren’t going to make you do 20 laps of the pool, but your outplacement Consultant is going to make you work!

Refocus on what you want

One of the great benefits of outplacement is that it gives you an opportunity to really take a step back and think about what you really want to do next. You might be perfectly happy looking for a similar role in the same sector as the one you have been working in. Equally, you might be delighted to take a totally different path. Whichever it is, your Consultant will work with you to identify what you need to do to enable you to achieve your dream.

It’s a full-time job

If you haven’t been job searching in recent years you might have forgotten just how much work goes into finding your next role. It’s not time off, you will need to commit to a number of hours each day to dedicated job hunting. The first step is all about sorting your CV to put you in the best possible position to find your next role, and updating your LinkedIn profile so that it reflects your CV. Once that is done the job search can get underway. However, this has changed considerably in recent years, so those hours might be spent catching up with your network – both online and in person – as much as they will be spent filling in application forms.

January rush

In the same way that the gyms are full in January and early February, so too are there often lots of people looking for a new role at the start of the year. However, having an outplacement Consultant working with you, will help ensure you stay focused and accountable, and that commitment to the search, will help you achieve the role that you want.

For more information on outplacement, contact Career Evolution today.

Let’s get back to business!

Despite the fact that all around us there are still reminders of the pandemic – from stories and statistics on the news, to masks – there is now a real sense of normality returning for many people. There are a variety of reasons for this, from the furlough scheme ending and summer holidays finishing, to children returning to school and students back to college and university. Other factors too, such as international travel being permitted, have led to people who haven’t been able to carry out their jobs as they would, getting back to normal – or being able to head abroad on holiday, or to visit relatives. There does seem to finally be a very real sense of ‘back to work and business as usual’.

Stop, start

The end of summer holidays seems to be a significant factor in normality returning. For many, last year was a tough year – whether business-wise, financially, mentally or socially. Many people found themselves spending 2020 firefighting to stay afloat and not taking holidays. This is true both of people trying to run their own businesses and employees who have been adapting to very different working methods than they were used to. The year – and the beginning of 2021 – felt very stop-start. We weren’t allowed to take holidays, then we were. We could meet friends and go out for a meal, then we couldn’t. We were back in the office, then we were in lockdown again. It disrupted many peoples’ routines and so many of us are creatures of habit. Re-establishing a sense of normality has not been that easy for many – be it in their working, social or day-to-day lives.

A mental reset

The lack of holidays has had a major impact on mental wellbeing and the successive lockdowns took their toll on many people. Being able to get out and about again, be it just to shop or to meet people socially, has started to make all the difference to peoples’ wellbeing. The clean break of a holiday ‘away from it all’ has provided a mental reset for many, and given them the impetus to go back to the office, as and when it is required. There’s nothing like a change of scene for helping people to be able to relax and for those of use lucky enough to, actually going on holiday has finally brought a sense of closure to an 18-month period that has been like no other.

Offices are beginning to open again and in many cases, managers are expecting staff to start being present on site. Work from home worked very well during the lockdown for some people, but for others it was detrimental to both their work and their health. The separation of work and home is often seen as beneficial, while the flipside is that ‘work from home’ has provided opportunities and all kinds of savings that have been welcomed. But companies can’t retain ‘fright-mode’ and it’s refreshing to see the business landscape moving forward once again in a more recognisable fashion. People are now making decisions in the same way as they would have pre-pandemic – with looking forward to the future and planning back on the agenda.

Busyness is back

Most staff are hoping to operate a hybrid model of working, whereby they are in the office some of the time and work from home too. However, some companies are going straight back into ‘work from office’ mode again, and expect staff to be present all the time, as they were before the pandemic. This hasn’t suited everyone, but some companies are being strict on this. It should be about what works for both parties – and discussions should be initiated to iron out any disagreements over what is best and most beneficial for everyone.

Having had a holiday and with the children back in school, people are feeling reinvigorated once more. The autumn is often a time of renewed activity, even in normal times. But this year seems even more hectic for many, as everyone gets back to busyness.

Company reorganisation leads to an appetite for change

With a 25-year background in the protein food industry, Peter Allan found his Regional Managing Director role was made redundant last May following a company reorganisation.  As part of his redundancy package, Peter’s former employers offered him outplacement support via Career Evolution.

Job hunting during a pandemic

Peter explains: “Having been with the company a long time, the decision to restructure did not come as a shock. Once the dust had settled, my key focus was to find a new role.  I was pleased to accept the outplacement support, as I knew the job market would be difficult in the current environment, particularly for the type and level of role I wanted to secure.”

Career Evolution worked with Peter to ensure that his CV was more specific and purposeful, and that his LinkedIn profile reflected the tone of his CV. With so many years in the food industry, Peter already had a well-developed, global network. However, he needed to decide on what he wanted from his next position.

Identifying what’s important

Peter found the support of Career Evolution extremely positive. He said: “Career Evolution encouraged me to really think about the sector and type of role I was looking for. Director Sue Thomas also provided me with introductions and contacts with senior people in other industries, as I had identified that my new role didn’t need to be sector-specific, but rather, there were various elements that were imperative. I wanted to work for a values-based business and thrive through leading a good team of people.

“Career Evolution also helped me prepare for interviewing via Zoom, which adds a whole new element to the interviewing process.”

After exploring a number of options, including NED positions, Peter was ultimately offered the role of Managing Director for Billington Food, part of the Billington Group at the end of last year and started in his new job in January 2021. It is an ethical, values-based, family-owned business with a good customer base and Peter is excited about the opportunities to develop the business further.

Keeping on track

He concluded: “Possibly one of the most important aspects of the support from Career Evolution was the accountability and reassurance that the team provided. I worked hard developing my network and researching and contacting companies but having someone there to motivate me and sense check my action helped keep me on track.”

Good connections lead to a brighter future with Esure

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, Gill Swindlehurst, like many others began working from home and later, as the pandemic continued, was furloughed.  Having only been in her insurance role since January, with the ongoing disruptions to daily life, she took the short-term decision to become the primary carer and home-schooler for her two young children and in May 2020 left her job.

Following a fortuitous introduction to outplacement specialists Career Evolution, via one of her husband’s HR networking groups, Gill started working with Sue Thomas, Director at Career Evolution. Sue helped her update her CV and advised her on the best approach to securing her next role.

Highlighting achievements

Gill explains: “Sue spent invaluable time, over Zoom, talking to me about what I wanted from my next role and looking at how I could develop my CV to position myself in the best possible way.  Sue got me to think about what I had already achieved in my professional life, with a focus on the most recent role I had held, and how that had contributed to the business’ bottom line.”

Star performance

Working in this collaborative way, Gill developed and revised her CV to make it punchy and to the point, using the STAR technique – looking at Situation, Task, Action, Results – to highlight competency examples. She also ensured that she was sending consistent messages through her LinkedIn profile and other online platforms, and that she was easy to find and contact.  The other fundamental piece of advice Sue shared, was for Gill to reach out to her professional network and make sure that they knew that she was looking for a new opportunity.

Gill continued: “The positive response I received from my network was amazing and an ex-colleague of mine put me in touch with the Claims Manager at Esure. I sent him my CV, and he contacted me, and we arranged to have a coffee via Zoom.  The benefit of having invested time on my CV, ensured that I was comfortable talking about my previous successes and that I had a strong framework to refer to during our call.”

Gill’s ‘interview’ and her CV ensured that she stood out. Gill was offered a newly created position as Claims Delivery Manager, responsible for change and improvements within the Esure Claims team.  Starting in November 2020, the position was originally a six-month placement, which has since been extended to May 2022.

Network strength

Talking about her experience of job hunting during a pandemic, Gill commented: “The advice Sue gave me made such a difference.  From updating my CV and personal statement, through to examining what I actually wanted from my next role, all had a huge impact on my approach and confidence.  However, possibly key was contacting my professional network, and the strength of the response from them was overwhelming.”

The power of connections

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One thing we’ve learned in the last few months is how interconnected everything can become. From our family and friends, to our work, our shopping and our hobbies. We have managed to continue to keep in contact with these aspects of our lives, even in the remoteness of isolation. There’s something really positive about a world that allows this to happen and the fact that these connections are what make up who we are – and also help keep us sane.

Changing times

Once upon a time, people would have looked at you askance if you’d said home delivery of groceries would make a comeback. Years ago, especially in rural villages, a van would often ‘do the rounds’, selling essentials like bread and other goods from outside your own home. The rise of supermarkets put paid to those ventures. Now, the supermarkets themselves are offering home delivery. The same is true of working from home. Who would have thought that it would have been possible to have almost an entire office-based population working from home? But that’s what’s happened and we’ve all got used to it. For many though, the physical isolation has taken its toll and staying connected offers positive reminders that there is still a world outside your front door.

Wired up to the network

The working from home policy has sped-up how interconnected we all are. Those who didn’t have a decent internet connection, or had never used online meeting platforms such as Teams and Zoom, are well versed by now. It’s become an even more vital part of our lives in other ways too. The impact increased connectivity has had has resulted in other benefits growing out of it – such as home entertainment and socialising. Business aspects such as exhibitions, job interviews, training and mentoring have all moved online for the time being. Technology and connectivity have ensured that these things – a job search, a training course – have been able to continue. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The way has been made so much easier thanks to the internet and digital technology.

Positively connected

From my own experience during lockdown, I have found there’s been a real sense of collaboration and kindness. I joined HR Manchester Connect at the start of lockdown. Its members comprise of professionals working in the Human Resources sector. This has been one of the areas most affected by lockdown, working from home, furlough and the uncertainty the job market has endured. The organisation has developed into an amazing support network of friends and connections. This is all the more incredible as I haven’t met the people in person, only virtually though my laptop screen. Over the last 12 months, we have all supported each other, both personally and professionally. This is so heartening in these uncertain times. I do hope that this positive ethos continues after the crisis has passed and we can meet in person.

Going the extra mile

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One of the strange by-products of being under lockdown for long periods of the last 12 months is how divisive depictions of the outside world have become. Our biggest contact with the wider world is of course the media. But there is a ‘them’ and ‘us’ divide on almost every aspect of reporting at the moment. From politics, generational differences and the Royal Family, to where you should go on holiday – home or abroad, when home for some people literally means ‘at home’.

But what can so often be forgotten at the moment is simple kindness. The kindness of going that extra mile and beyond the call of duty. To make sure of others’ mental and physical wellbeing. The impact the national lockdowns, the lack of social interaction, the lessening of physical contact and the ongoing work from home policy, has left many people feeling isolated. Even if they have large extended families or wide circles of friends, the ability to meet up with them has been taken away. Even within your own household activity is limited. You may not want to go out for a meal, or a clothes’ shopping spree,. However, it would be nice to at least have the option. And work from home is wearing thin for some now. As for many, their dining room table continues its dual role as eatery and office – taking eating ‘al desco’ to an entirely new level.

A duty of care

What we’ve found at Career Evolution is that we’ve been more in contact than normal with our clients. Checking in with them regularly. Our Consultants and Coaches always aim to build up a strong and continuing relationship with their clients during their time together. But we’re finding that it‘s simple things like asking for an update on progress – if they are undergoing the outplacement process – or getting updates in their job search or career progression, that have really been appreciated.

We have found this extra commitment, for example, checking in with clients after they have been in their new roles for three months, to ensure they’ve settled in, makes a big difference. We’ve also found that it’s happened naturally, as opposed to being something that was premeditated. Also, all our clients know that they can keep in touch with us, even after they have secured their new role. That ongoing contact enables us to address any concerns our clients may have or allow us to apply reassurance and ongoing guidance where necessary.

Whether it’s checking in with your next-door neighbour, contacting a colleague to say ‘hello’ or following up on a client’s progress and feedback following a job interview, try to find the time to make sure they’re okay. You have no idea how much some people will appreciate it.

Informally speaking

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Even in lockdown, job searches can still being carried out, fresh contacts made and new opportunities pursued. Often doors open in the most unusual circumstances, in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s a call for an ‘informal chat’, but don’t be fooled. Go in with both eyes open. Even the most informal chat requires a degree of presentation and preparation.

Same rules apply

Over the last 12 months, many aspects of business have changed dramatically. With offices largely deserted and people working remotely, things like the daily commute have become consigned to the past for now. With that has come a degree of complacency on the part of some people, who have seen their ‘work’ and ‘home’ life blur into one.

However, for some companies this remote working has been business as usual. If operatives are working in a variety of countries already, they are used to working via Zoom and Teams (other conferencing platforms are available). People are already working for companies that are based around the globe, in different time zones, with meetings taking place at all hours of the day to accommodate all attendees. What shouldn’t be forgotten at this time, however, is a consistent level of professionalism that should be maintained, even in the most ‘informal’ business situations.

Don’t knock opportunity

Imagine that through an online networking event, or a business forum such as LinkedIn, you have had an invite for an ‘informal chat’ about potential opportunities for working together. This could be from a senior person in the company. But the chat is being conducted via Zoom, so the minimum effort on your part is required, right? There’s no getting smartened up, working out travel times to the office, arriving on time for the meeting or interview. No prep at all. All you have to do is show up at your own dining room table.

However, even if there isn’t a role currently available for you at the company, you could use this opportunity of being in front of a senior person at a company you’d like to work for, to make a good impression. Our advice to our clients at Career Evolution is that there’s no such thing as an informal chat. These are busy people, who don’t give up their time freely when they don’t have to. If they want to talk to you, it’s because they’re seeing value in you.

Keeping up appearances

This means you have to dress, act and prepare for a formal interview.  Don’t be caught unaware just for the sake of putting some smart/casual clothes on and doing some preparation. Research the company and its people. Look at how it presents itself online and in the media. Determine what they do and how you could have a positive impact at the company. Give it some thought beforehand.

That extra bit of effort on your part – visually and mentally – will combine to create the right impression of you as a potential work colleague, however informal the invitation to ‘chat’ may seem to be.