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S.U.R.F. your way to a new career

… By Katherine Wiid of Recrion & Career Ambitions, specialist in Career Management, Recruitment and Retention.

Earlier this month, Katherine Wiid opened our CamAW1SE Conference with an intriguing talk titled ‘From Label to Able’. And rather than leaving delegates drowning in information, they discovered a new approach to their careers and job search that would leave them riding high on the choppy waves of the job market…

 

S.U.R.F. your way to a new career…

Do you at times have doubts about whether your skills, experiences and qualifications are relevant for the local job market?

Often when I meet a client for career coaching for the first time, they say things like, “I’m a C++ programmer but I haven’t got all the latest languages like Rust and Swift, so I’m not getting any interviews.”

And there’s the problem. They’ve been caught in the label trap – seeing themselves as a set of skills on a job description. Candidates often see their applications getting rejected, with no feedback to help them improve their applications. Often candidates tell me it’s as if their CVs are going into a machine that strips their carefully crafted experience and skills into a series of ticks and crosses, translating to ‘not a good match’.

But we are all much more than a list of skills. We just need to look beyond the check list, see past the labels and identify what we have to offer a potential employer beyond their job description.

Learn to S.U.R.F.

What does surfing have to do with your job search? To change careers, start afresh and tackle the choppy job market, we need to have a balanced approach so that we can ride the rough with the smooth…

S = Skills
If you ask yourself “what do you do?” you’ll probably instinctively answer with a label. But is that all you are? Can you not be something else also?

Labels narrow down our options. Don’t assume that your qualifications speak for themselves. I see too many career professionals with impressive qualifications who fail to see what those skills actually enable them to do, beyond the label.

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Ask yourself:
• What did I learn that has added to my skill set?
• How does the experience allow me to offer something different in a market flooded with qualified people?
• How do I use or hope to use this qualification?

To master the art of S.U.R.F.ing we need to be skillful at identifying our skills. One of the main reasons that people aren’t motivated in their careers is because they only see half the skills they have. They only really develop and use a quarter of those skills, and they only put a fraction of them on their CVs! No wonder those CV machines are coming back as ‘not a good match’…

To uncover your hidden skills and talents, think about and write down:
• The activities you enjoyed at school / university / in your spare time. Everything we read and learn about in our own time – not just when studying – gives us new skills
• Think about how you do what you do. From day to day how do you manage your home, family, work, social life? You might be a great organiser or the person who comes up with the ideas!

It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with what you’ve got!

U = Unconscious

How many of your skills are unconscious, undeveloped, undiscovered? Knowing yourself and what drives you at a deeper unconscious level is one of the most attractive qualities in a candidate.

If we aren’t consciously aware of what motivates us we can end up working in an environment where we are not challenged or passionate about we do. This can knock our confidence and lead to a wasted, unfulfilled life.

To help you become more consciously aware of your unconscious motivations here are three questions to ask yourself:
• What’s important to me and has to be in my work?
• What gives me the greatest buzz at work
• If all jobs paid the same what would I do?

Remember, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with what you’ve got!

R = Relevant

As you are learning to S.U.R.F. you will become skillful at assessing your skills and tapping into what unconsciously motivates you. Now it’s time to make these new discoveries relevant to the job market. How can your unique skills, experiences and passions be of use to the hundreds of companies seeking new talent? How can you help them to choose you?

To do this, we’ll need to step into the shoes of the employer. If you see a job you like the look of, but they’re asking for a skill you don’t obviously have, don’t reject it. Employers aren’t always able to articulate exactly what they want and job descriptions aren’t always accurate. Ask yourself, why do they need this? What problem will it solve?

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Try doing a SWOT analysis, which will help you to understand the context of the job within the company and within that market. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are the external opportunities and threats for the organization? Now do the same exercise on yourself. What are the strengths you have that might minimize their weaknesses and threats? What have you got that will enable them to take advantage of an opportunity.

Now tailor your CV and cover letter to address what might be going through their minds when they are assessing you. This will set you apart as you are answering the problem posed by the job, showing them how skillful you are without necessarily having the exact skill they thought they needed!

Remember, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with what you’ve got!

F = Flexible

To be able to S.U.R.F. well, you need to be flexible and see yourself and the job market with fresh eyes.

For you, that might mean experimenting with new career ideas, trialing new roles and being prepared to make mistakes. Ensure your mistakes are positive steps in your learning.

Flexibility for you might not be sitting and waiting for that career opportunity to come knocking, but to increase the odds in your favour by learning to think openly, being curious, asking decision makers for 30 minutes of their time to give you an insight into what they do. Be alert to the possibility that your skills and motivations might be suited to a job that didn’t even exist.

Remember, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with what’s you got!

Effective S.U.R.F.ing is about finding a career that works for you, matching what you’ve got and who you are with the life you are going to lead.

Believe me, there are jobs hiding behind every wave, you just have to get up and S.U.R.F. them! Enjoy the ride…

Speed networking – 7th December.

Fun, fast-paced and informal

Dip into the subject of speed networking with a short Bingo exercise to help identify topics followed by a fast-paced Speed networking session.

How to start
Get a group of people together: differing careers and backgrounds are fine, in fact the broader the better. The aim is to have groups with different ideas to yourself. Speed networking is a great way to generate lots of ideas in a fun and informal atmosphere. This is our winter networking event so plenty of seasonal cakes and drinks included!

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Book Now!

Thursday 7th December 2015, 8:00-10:00pm

Reception rooms

Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

Refreshments include seasonal cakes, spicy apple juice, tea and coffee.

Members £10 Non-members £12

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Relaunch your career: First talk tease.

From Label to Able

The most attractive quality in anyone is to know yourself – your strengths, motivations and how you can make a difference. Katherine Wiid, a Cambridge based Career Management Coach who specialises in career motivation, will help delegates consider themselves with fresh eyes not just as a “returner to work” or a “trailing spouse”.

Katherine believes that it is not what you’ve got – it’s what you do with what you’ve got!

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Katherine Wiid

Hear from Katherine among other speakers during the Relaunch your career event. Read more here

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November 4th 2017,  British Antarctic Survey’s Aurora Center

British Antarctic Survey’s Aurora Center

Coffee break, Tea break, Lunch, and materials included.

 

With the collaboration of

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Meet the Steering Group – Isabel Tingay

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Isabel Tingay

What is your current profession/background?

I hold a PhD in Chemistry and currently work at an International Chemicals company, developing after-treatment solutions for the automotive industry. I apply my knowledge and skills to the creation of next generation catalysts.  I started in research and followed this with a move to development. This involves working with customers to understand their requirements, turning these into development projects.

What point in your life led you to pursue a career in STEM?

I have always had a keen interest in how things work; one of my earliest memories is finding a bird skeleton in the garden and working out how it functioned and fitted together!  I was fortunate to be taught by two very inspirational chemistry teachers at school who sparked off and encouraged my interest in chemistry.

 

What is one of your biggest aspirations?

To use science to improve the environment and human health.  I spent a year in a research lab in France studying marine sediments for pollutants. This was both thoroughly enjoyable and the turning point in my decision of how I was to apply my scientific background in my career.  I have continued this through my work, reducing pollution from trucks and buses.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring female scientists and engineers?

Follow what interests you and what you love doing.  Seek out a mentor and offer mentoring to others.  Actively manage your career at all times.  And most importantly, science and engineering are fascinating and constantly changing subjects, so enjoy!

 

How have you benefited from being a part of CAMAWiSE?

I have been a member of CAMAWiSE for a couple of years and it has been wonderful to meet fellow STEM professionals with similar interests and experiences.  The workshops have been complementary to the training I have received through my job and have given me additional tools to use for personal development.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have completed the Cambridge half marathon and fit in exercise whenever I can.  I have an allotment and love spending a Sunday afternoon digging, weeding and growing unusual produce.  I even grew award-winning pumpkins this year!

 

Ask me about …

Automotive catalysis, spot the truck and name the catalyst (!), and balancing a career with having children.

Men as champions of change with Jill Armstrong

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Collaborating with Men is ground-breaking research conducted by Murray Edwards College with men to establish how men and women can work together to transform workplace culture barriers to women’s progress into leadership positions. Much research shows how women’s careers are ill-affected by assumptions and behaviour in the workplace that arise from the dominance of masculine culture. Yet, very little research has sought the point of view of men. The research asks men who support gender equality: Do they see the problems women report? What they can personally do to help change the workplace? What support do they need from leaders?

Read more about Jill Armstrong and her research.

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10th October.

20:00-22:00

Lucy Cavendish College

Reception rooms

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