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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…

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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Tips to boost your confidence.

We got together to work on top tips on being confident. First, we considered what situations we might particularly need a confidence boost in and choose the following ones to brainstorm tips for :

IMG_4653.JPG• Getting your opinion heard (for example in meetings)
• In a new role
• After a knock to your confidence, such as a failure, redundancy etc.
• For networking events
• Negotiating a pay rise or other working conditions such as flexi-time

1. Prepare- In every situation, bring prepared was seen as a real confidence. It helps to have thought about the content of what you are going to say, what arguments to use for your pay rise or other negotiations (including your researching your “market value”, considering the other person’s likely point of view), the interests and backgrounds of people you are meeting and possible answers to likely and hard questions in a job interview. For networking events people thought it was helpful to prepare an opening gambit as well as an exit strategy. Preparation for meetings can include sending out “homework” for others in advance.

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2. Celebrate successes- When you are feeling nervous or under confident, remember the successes you have had in the past. Maybe keep reminders (such as thank you cards or emails) to hand to remind yourself.
3. Be assertive- Assertive as a way of interacting with people is not the same as aggressive, it is the mindset that you are okay and the other person is okay and you both deserve respect and boundaries. You give respect and expect it in return. It involves listening, asking questions and clarifying and looking for areas of agreement and mutual wins.

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4. Feel the fear and do it anyway- it is natural to feel nervous, especially if you’re venturing out of your comfort zone (which is a good thing to be doing, but is when you are most likely to need a dose of confidence)
5. Get a mentor – Talking things through with someone who has been there may be the best thing for your confidence and it would be worth finding a mentor. For a general lift in confidence, become someone’s mentor! It will make you realize how far you have come.
6. Learn from your mistakes- Don’t beat yourself up about mistakes, analyse what you’d do differently next time. Don’t try to blame them on someone else and you will feel more confident in similar situations.

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7. Don’t take things personally/ keep perspective
8. Fake it till you make it- the important part really is the second half of the sentence- you will make it and you will feel confident in doing something that is now quite new, so put on a smile and act confident until you feel it. However, don’t bluster or over compensate.
9. Keep busy- Doing what you are good at will boost you. Maybe you can engineer small wins.
10. Do someone a favour- Or compliment or even just smile at someone, they won’t be the only ones benefiting!

Tips for specific situations included: if someone won’t stop talking, make a change to the situation, even if it is just getting up yourself.
To regain your confidence after a bad situation, remember how you bounced back before, what you did to get over any previous disappointments.

Thank you, Tennie for a most effective workshop!

Getting noticed on LinkedIn

If you missed this workshop or love it and want to attend to an improved version book now for the Relaunch your career event. Read more here

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“I have attended events on LinkedIn before, but this workshop’s step-wise approach to building a meaningful and strong profile had much more impact”, said one attendee coming out of the CamAWiSE event. The ‘Getting noticed on LinkedIn’ workshop was conducted by Cathy Sorbara, COO of Cheeky Scientist and a steering group member of CamAWiSE. LinkedIn is proving to be a ‘must-have’ social presence for professional growth whether to seek job opportunities or to build your brand. 

Cathy asked the attendees to consider questions like –

  • What is the goal of your LinkedIn profile?
  • Who is your target audience (hiring manager or business partner?)
  • If someone doesn’t know your name, what keywords might they use which would lead them to your profile?

 

Cathy emphasised making use of the headline and summary space to create a crisp account of your achievements and aspirations. The headline, she explained, should use your transferable and technical skills to define you as a person. Make a connection with the viewer using an elevator pitch! The summary should not be a resumé–like account but an expression or narration of your aspirations. List the achievements that relate to those goals in a manner that stimulates the viewer to connect and find out more about you. Visual assets including PowerPoint presentations, links to blogs, pdf files, and pictures can be added to reinforce your achievements and the trajectory you aspire to.

img_4458-copyRecommendations and skills endorsements from connections (usually colleagues) are important ways to build credibility and increase profile views. Cathy added: “Everybody has transferable skills, even if they don’t know it, and these skills are in popular demand over technical ones”. Your profile photo must be high-quality and professional-looking, while a background photo is a great way to give further weight to the image you would like to promote. Volunteer experiences and publicising your interests by content sharing are great ways to connect to your target audience and showcase your communication and knowledge-based skills.

When requesting connections, it is more rewarding and respectful to personalise the standard message provided by LinkedIn. You can refer to a common interest or connection, for example, but keep to no more than 50 words.

getting-noticed

A great profile will help you begin to capitalise on the most powerful online networking tool in the world that is used by 98% of recruiters. However, networking on LinkedIn is the next essential step to connect directly with target viewers and their secondary connections, helping you build a strong network which enhances profile visibility. Other social media platforms like Twitter, as well as in-person networking, also play an important role. Let’s connect!

by Ruchi Chauhan

A refreshingly honest take on blogging & twitter from Athene Donald, one of Britain’s ‘top 100 most powerful women’

As one of Britain’s ‘top 100 most powerful women’, and with a mantelpiece groaning with accolades, Professor Dame Athene Donald needs little introduction. But as a prolific blogger and social media proponent, some may be less familiar with her work – especially those of us just dipping a toe into Twitter or seeking new ways to network.

So I was keen to learn more about this inspirational scientist, whose comments are sought on everything from New Year’s resolutions to Desert Island Discs, at a recent Cambridge AWiSE event, “Different ways to reach out”.

Read more

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