Many jobseekers undersell themselves at interview and in their resumes. Articulating achievements well can come down to practice and having a focused mindset. Once the ball is rolling, I’ve seen many clients provide ten times the amount of workplace achievements they had previously documented.
Aside from the usual measurables of success, such as achieving targets, meeting KPI’s and being promoted, did you know there are many other angles to find achievements to mention in your work life? Here are some tips to start thinking outside the usual parameters and recognise the many accomplishments that can arise from challenging situations or non-traditional events.
Challenging situations can reveal hidden achievements to consider including in your next resume or interview.
- Where you part of a rapid business transformation during COVID-19?. It was probably chaos, but you may have designed a new digital payment spreadsheet or created new collaborations virtually. These examples speak volumes about your abilities to re-invent, an essential skill for future workplaces.
- Re-frame challenging work situations you have had in the past within teams or during a change of management. There is always learning and growth to be found in these difficult experiences. Demonstrate your emotional intelligence here by describing the challenge and how you overcame it. Avoid being trapped by perceived negative past experiences; remember they are part of the tapestry of our working life.
- Projects not completed, but actively worked on throughout 2020. I have seen many clients whose position was made redundant before project completion. The economic and environmental factors that delayed or abandoned these are not within your control. Therefore, it can be useful to mention “led a team of 10 to roll out new business systems for 2020. Project postponed due to COVID-19 budget cuts.”
These in-depth scenario descriptions give depth and reality to articulating a work history. Spend time documenting these and other tricky scenarios and find the silver lining each of them presented. This approach will put you in the driver’s seat and control your next move.
As we’ve seen, employment rates and jobs have changed rapidly over the past few months. We have witnessed hour by hour changes in businesses closing and thousands of people being laid off. On a more positive note, we’ve also seen many large companies such as Woolworths and Telstra undertaking massive hiring schemes to address the immediate needs which have arisen due to COVID-19. New hires are now happening across transport and delivery, customer service centres and warehousing, just to name a few.
Whether or not you have been directly affected by these sweeping changes, it is essential to understand how the job market is changing and how you can prepare yourself well.
1) Be clear on your career achievements and highlights.
With unemployment set to rise, there will be far more competition in the marketplace, and it is vital to know how you can stand out from other applicants. This is no time to be humble.
If you achieved sales targets last quarter, state by how much, and how did you go about doing this? What did you do that was different? Note it down, review it, consider all factors involved in you achieving this target. Have a concise answer ready for your interviewer. Map out the stories of each achievement. Apply the STAR process to thinking and your account- What was the Situation, Task, Action and Result? It is much easier to do this asap rather than in a few months.
2) Optimise your resume
Use the highlights you have worked through to be the *gems* of your resume. Think less on job description details, and more on measurable achievements and highlights. It will be evident to a hirer once they see your job title what your role was about, but they are looking to understand what makes you different to the next candidate they are about to interview.
3) Be aware of your transferable skills- don’t be afraid to use them
We are seeing a job market that is putting a freeze on ‘non-essential’ roles and are hiring across in-demand areas. If you have recently lost your job, seek out these positions through the newly launched Government site Jobs Hub and consider if you fit the criteria. Steer your resume to promote and highlight your transferable skills. See a list of transferable skills here.
It may not be your ideal role, but believe me, if you have a vastly different position on your resume during 2020, hirers in the future are going to understand. Being proactive and getting back into the job market will give you a purpose while this period in time plays out.
4) Discover your strengths Delve into some positive psychology and complete the free test at www.viacharacter.org to understand your character strengths. During times of uncertainty, this can be a powerful and empowering exercise. Research has shown that using your key strengths in your career and life can increase happiness and help with depression. While you’re there, take a look at some of the excellent resources associated with the website.
1)Use the time to upskill. With almost all universities and other education providers running online courses, especially short courses, being motivated and resources here will pay off in the long run. It may be that you’ve meant to improve in your Excel skills or get a handle on new software. Check www.coursera.org or https://www.udemy.com/.
This is a time to think outside the box and focus on what is important to you. If you have any questions on the above points, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or message me via LinkedIn.
Ever considered career coaching? Asking for help can be difficult, sometimes we only truly reach out when things are bad or, really urgent. Many of us rely on our friends and family to give us the feedback and advice we need, but what if you need a fresh perspective on planning your future? Enter the career coach..
It takes a leap of faith to ask for help, to communicate your needs, and ideally be in a ‘coachable’ mindset. So, what can be gained from engaging a career coach? With so many twists and turns in both life and career, consulting a career coach can help in so many stages across a lifetime to provide an external perspective and some up to date advice.
Some of the services available from a Career Coach:
1) Students / graduates – Education on networking and what to expect when applying for graduate programs. Resume, LinkedIn and job search advice is also in high demand at this stage of life.
2) Return to work parents – Re-entering the workforce can be daunting, advice on finding flexible work, communicating your brand and refreshing job interview skills can be invaluable.
3) Redundancies – Coping with the shock of redundancy, unexpected change and the emotions that go with it is not something anyone should be doing alone. Re-framing and figuring out the next move while having an experienced coach to talk to is essential at this time in life.
4) Career Transition – Never quite got to the job of your dreams? Let’s talk about how I can help you re-position yourself to get there. Become aware of your transferable skills, seek out new opportunities, all to position you towards your next job.
5) Negotiating a pay rise or promotion – Been delivering the goods but not seeing the rewards? Devise a value proposition based on your achievements, and present to your employer.
6) Job Interview practice – You’ve been for a dozen interviews, but you’re always the runner up. Let’s work on what you’re missing, and hone your skills to nail that job interview
7) Executives – After achieving so much, there’s still more to be explored. Let’s look at your life holistically, reassess and clarify what you really want in your next phase.
8) 3rd Age – Downsizing and considering working less hours. You still have a lot to give- how can you make the most out of this time and continue to contribute?
These are just some of the areas where I provide career coaching on a regular basis. Earlier, I mentioned getting a ‘fresh perspective’. An extremely valuable part of engaging a coach is the fact they are 100% committed to working with you strategically, in order to achieve the gains and outcomes you’re looking for. Coaches can help you see things pragmatically, with no hidden agenda or biases (hello, relatives and friends).
So, even if it’s brushing up on bridge, like Bill Gates, or if you’d like to be the next Bill Gates, take a step forward and engage a coach (it can move mountains)
Melinda Weston is a Professional Member of the CDAA (Career Development Association of Australia) based in Melbourne CBD. Melinda is available to consult face to face (outside of COVID restrictions) and via Zoom or phone. See www.melindaweston.com.au, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further enquiries
You’ve climbed the corporate ladder, been at the top of your game, managed and maintained an exceptional professional network, and love what you do. So, what’s next?
All of these achievements are deeply satisfying, but how do you keep the momentum up if something changes? Do you have a resounding belief that you’ll know what to do when you don’t know what to do?
Learning Agility is a key factor in reinventing yourself when you’re at a loss as to where to go next. It is primordial for your success in work and life that you become able at discerning when you are confronted with something new, accepting that you have to react in a different manner than usual.
The word Agile is very familiar these days, but did you know the construct of Learning Agility consists of five dimensions:
Many of us struggle the most with Change Agility. Mental plasticity can be one of the slowest areas to make change in, as so many of us are content within our own comfort zone.
The key to working on change agility is to take risks, take the road less travelled and have the courage to back yourself. Continually reinventing yourself comes with doing things differently, creating new neural pathways, which assist us seeing the world through a new and different lens.
Becoming change agile is just one part of what you’ll learn and formulate within your own Personal Business Plan.
Get to the heart of your Personal Business Plan with a Certified Coach, available internationally, http://thepersonalbusinessplan.com/we-offer/coaches/ or sign up for our self-guided online program, https://app.thepersonalbusinessplan.com/users/sign_in
You may have read my last article- Start Your Life Ambition in 2018. How is 2018 going for you?
Easter is my favourite holiday period, 4 days off to contemplate and take stock – not too far into the year, and the change in weather is often refreshing, no matter where you are. It’s a great time to catch up with family and friends, but have you had the chance to put some of those niggling 2018 changes into place yet?
Let’s break The Personal Business Plan down a little more, just to get started.
What you’ll need is a watch, notepad and pen, calendar (I like using my iPhone calendar)
Let’s start with 2 questions, write down as much as you can (brainstorm) under the following headings, for 6 minutes. There is no right or wrong. Dot points or single words are fine and do write down what comes to you immediately. Here, you really must trust yourself and ensure you are not hiding anything that comes up in your thought process. This is your life, and you are making changes for the better.
1) What baggage of the past must I let go of?
This is where you define the baggage that you carry around and that you need to let go of, in order to move on and have the courage to be true to yourself. This is one of the most essential questions in The Personal Business Plan. It’s about knowing yourself, and trusting that gut feeling when you know things aren’t right. Remember, we are talking about all parts of your life here, work, and personal.
Getting this out on paper should give yourself a sense of relief. It’s right there, in black and white. These issues are your most pressing. This is the start of how you will change your approach, continue to stay relevant in all areas of your life, become agile, and of course, be the best version of yourself – and there can be more than one!
2) What is meaningful to me right now?
This question is about articulating your personal definition of ‘What is important to me right now?’ and establishing your own internal Wellbeing benchmark. Look at your life anchors, current situations, and ask, is there is an alignment between my interests, competencies and possibilities?
Here, you might also ask yourself, ‘What preoccupies me right now?’. Ask yourself if these are relevant limitations for you, and what the possibilities would be if you put some different actions around a few stumbling blocks in your way.
This is just the start of The Personal Business Plan, which is a powerful tool, enabling you to start delivering on your own promises towards yourself. After this brainstorm, set some action plans around the points you have made, then set some regular milestones to keep yourself accountable. At The Personal Business Plan, we call this a psychological contact- a reasonable time in the future, in which you feel this can be achieved. So, put the date into your calendar, and hold yourself accountable to it. You will feel rewarded when you start to do things that you like doing, and doing less of what you don’t like doing.
Have you ever spent time designing your future? Can you see it? Do you know what it looks like? Many of us make some plans for change at the start of a new year, but what if you did this with the next 20 years in mind?
Unlike any plan or resolution you may make for the start of 2018, The Personal Business Plan works on plotting, visualising and documenting an overarching life ambition that will steer your actions, provide direction and finally, give you the courage to commit.
One of the strongest guiding principles within the Personal Business Plan centres on knowing yourself, and knowing what to do when times are tough. Establishing your internal wellbeing benchmark by comparing good times to bad, allow you to define your life anchors and reveal alignments in your life between your interests, competencies and possibilities.
The Personal Business Plan is a 10 step journey, conducted across 12 months, being the ideal time frame to initiate change and start to see some of the benefits. These 10 steps are more broadly categorised under the following grouping:
· UNDERSTAND YOURSELF – Analyse your past and present
· IDENTIFY YOUR DRIVERS – Grasp your personality
· REINVENT YOURSELF – Set your goals
· DESIGN YOUR FUTURE – Plan and execute
The symbol of The Personal Business Plan is the 4 leaf clover. After completing the exercises with your coach or through the online program, you will come to discover your main driving forces. By documenting these through written statements and visuals, you will be confident to commit yourself to your own Personal Business Plan.
Throughout this process, you will also discover how to become agile, how to reinvent yourself and most importantly, how to be happy. Anyone with plans for 2038?
Career Anchors represent a unique combination of career competence, motives, and values, individual to each of us. Career anchors are shaped over time; however, it is important to ensure that they are secure for where you are right now.
All evidence behind strength based studies (such as Gallup) shows that in order to be happy at work, we will ideally be using our strengths, on a very regular basis. For everyone who has ever felt disengaged, or in a role that was incompatible with their abilities, adopting this approach will answer a lot of questions for you.
Career anchors help identify the specific roles and disciplines that fit your style, skills, methods, and talents. Based on a self-assessment , the outcome will provide the chance to reflect on past experiences in workplace settings to help to gain a picture and narrative of the environment, work style, pace, which is most enjoyable and productive.
Edgar Schein created the concept of career anchors, primarily focusing on 8 categories, then further broken down to gain insight to uncover your ‘non-negotiable’ career anchor. For those who are a lost in their career, this can be a powerful and motivating focus to rebuild from, whether it be applied to a current role or the trigger for a career transition.
With a stronger focus and awareness of strengths of employees, companies can start building more positive work cultures, retaining more employees, and most importantly, keeping their workforce engaged. Gallup studies show that employee productivity increases by 21% when in roles that use the individual’s strengths. Makes sense!
For further assistance on career anchors, life values, and career confidence, please contact Melinda Weston at email@example.com
The beauty of hindsight is that, once we get through the negativity of what went wrong in the past, it allows us to see what we wouldn’t do again, and to create new patterns for ourselves. What we don’t always acknowledge though, is a concept known as ‘hindsight bias’.
You may have often told yourself ”I knew it, I knew it all along”, in a circumstance such as having aced an exam that you’d only studied for the night before, or when a colleague repeats an act of negligence they had for which they had prior form. However, we were unlikely to have known all along these scenarios would happen again; we only feel we should have known. The thing is, if you feel like you knew it all along, it is likely you won’t stop to examine why something really happened.
This is due to the brain selectively recalling information and then making a narrative of the available evidence. We generate that narrative and it tricks us into seeing the scenario we’re mulling over as totally foreseeable. As the event was previously unexpected, our brain has processed it so as to be orderly and systematic so that we can put some closure on events.
I’ll often meet clients who have given a lot of thought to ‘hindsight’, or 20/20 historical vision. In this mindset, past events seem to be more prominent than they appeared while they were occurring, and often more simplified in cause and effect. Hindsight bias can also give rise to the belief that what happened was inevitable, which can prevent the exploration of possibilities for the future.
An approach which can help us articulate a new narrative to what we feel has gone badly in the past is to stop and think carefully about the causes of the situation. It is also important to consider what factors were influential at the time and to dissect other parts of the situation which may have been omitted whilst creating an “I knew it” narrative
Have you considered the themes you will be concentrating on for the next 5, 10, 20 years? It is critical to map the road forward, remembering that the past does not shape the future. Your hindsight bias can be slowly silenced by recognising the many, many avenues that can be taken to create your future. They are filled with possibility. Identify the best of those possibilities, and pursue them to create your future.
Almost everyone has one- an untapped career path they’ve always thought about. It has more than often felt out of reach, impossible, or an unattainable dream. Is it moving from a labour job to a desk job? Or on the other hand, is it cracking the valuable practical experience needed to move into the area you are qualified in?
With little or no experience in a new area, it is very difficult to know where to start. I am going to show you how you can build up your experience within your desired sector, and some steps on how you can start to transition into your new career.
- Scour your network – think of all areas of your life for contacts who may work within your desired sector – family, social, friends, clubs. The person may be a second degree contact, whom you can be introduced to. It helps to write these down, and even work on it over a few days as people come to mind. LinkedIn can be useful source of information, not forgetting that building a network is an ongoing process throughout your career and personal life. This scouring process is designed for you to find someone you may be able to have an informal coffee meeting with, to assist in making headway into understanding their sector, and ask how they started out and what skills they would be looking for when hiring
- Print out a job advertisement for a role that is of interest to you – keep it within realistic terms, not focusing on the Marketing Manager role, if you’re only just transitioning into Marketing. Decipher it, look at what the employer REALLY wants, and underline it. Here is an example:
‘Bringing your passion for Marketing will allow you to grow your career with us. As the successful candidate you will have excellent time management skills, be process driven and be self-motivated. You will have 1 – 2 years’ experience in a similar role, previous experience in the Property sectors (highly regarded), relevant degree or diploma in relevant field (i.e. Marketing), strong communication skills and the ability to manage internal & external stakeholders. You will have the ability to work within a busy team environmentand a track record of multitasking and managing multiple priorities, be proficient in Adobe Creative suite and website CMA and cloud based marketing platforms and have great Microsoft Office + Project Skills’
These are the points that the employer is anticipating you will address in your application. If for example, Adobe Creative is not something you are familiar with, do your research and find out how it works. Be familiar with the programs they are asking for, even if it means you use them to work on your own material in your own time, to gain further knowledge.
In regards to qualifications, if time for retraining has been a problem in the past, there are now an unlimited amount of certificates, short courses and other qualifications that can be taken online.
- Be sure to leverage the experience you already hold, such as ‘time management skills’ and ‘working within a busy team’. These are valuable, transferable soft skills that shouldn’t be overlooked when making an impact
- Join or subscribe to relevant industry groups or associations. This might be via their company website, or through LinkedIn ‘Groups’. Take time to read back through articles and comment, getting a feel for the content. You may even feel compelled to contribute, once you get comfortable with the group’s dynamic
- Put your new learnings into practice. If you are able to afford a small amount of time, websites like www.goodcompany.com.au offer volunteer roles that may be a once off or ongoing with various businesses. Often once you have been able to practice your new skill set, confidence grows quickly, and you also gain valuable experience to talk about in interviews.
- Think 6 months ahead. Set yourself small and achievable goals to move towards where you picture yourself to be. It might be committing to a webinar or podcast regularly, making a new contact with your chosen industry, or attending an event where you can go as an ‘industry member’ (or student member). Every step you take, you will get you closer to becoming known in this new area. I like to think of it as building blocks, one by one.
- Accept that even if you are established in your existing work life, you are a new member to your new sector. You may not be offered your ‘dream job’ straight away. However, when your first opportunity does arise, feel proud of what you have done to achieve the transition, and keep building those blocks towards the next goal.
Melinda Weston is a Career Transition and Outplacement Coach based in Melbourne CBD. Please feel free to comment or contact me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org