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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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Booking is now closed


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Relaunch your career November 4th

Are you looking to change careers but have no idea where to start?

Have you taken a career break and are looking for advice and support on how to re-enter the workforce?

Have you relocated because of your significant other and now find yourself unemployed?

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We have a special event just for. On November 4th 2017, at the British Antarctic Survey’s Aurora Center, we will be hosting ‘Relaunch Your Career’.

We aim to give you the tools, confidence and support system to take that first step. A full day of training for women with a background in Science, Technology, IT, Engineering, Maths, and Medicine, it will include expert speakers, workshops and plenty of networking opportunities.

We invite all women, regardless of your career stage, to take advantage of this incredible event.

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Aurora Centre

The morning will be devoted to talks from experts about identifying your skills, job flexibility, confidence, negotiation and more and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the speakers.

Following a lunch break, we will have workshops to give you hands-on experience on creating an online presence, crafting your CV, finding your career anchors and more.

Finally, we have organised an inspirational woman in STEM career panel so you can hear from women who were in your situation and how they coped. Learn from their successes and failures and feel supported.

Schedule

From 9:00 Registration
Networking
9:30-9:45 Welcome BAS & CamAWiSE.
10: 00 First session From Label to able by Katherine Wiid

How to Shine When Returning to Work by Claire Button

11:00 Coffee break
11:30 Second session Job sharing in STEM by Sara Horsfall

Confidence and negotiation  by Christina Youell

12:30 Lunch break
14:30 Workshops Self-Promote Through Your CV – re-write your CV to kick-start your dream career: with Claire Button

Careers Anchors, identify your strengths & values with by Tennie Videler

Getting noticed on LinkedIn and online presence with Catherine Sorbara

15:30 Tea break
16:00 Panel and Q&A Chaired by Jenny Brookman.

Sarah Bearpark – Returner

Ruchi Chauhan – Relocated from the USA

Claire MacDonald – Former Attendee

Catherine Onley – Returner

Ruchi Sharma – Career changer

17:00 Networking 
18:00 End of conference

Booking is now closed!

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

British Antarctic Survey’s Aurora Center

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

Members £35

Non-Members £45

Event + Membership  ££60

With the collaboration of

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My Homeward Bound Journey: The Beginning by Cathy Sorbara.

A little over four months ago, was the annual general meeting CamAWiSE, my first event acting as Chair. I listened to a talk by Dr. Deborah Pardo, a population modeller from the British Antarctic Survey, who was part of Homeward Bound’s maiden voyage to Antarctica last year. I heard her talk with such passion and clarity about Homeward Bound’s mission and how it has changed her life that I knew immediately that I needed to be part of this story.

Homeward Bound, she said, is a groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative, and outreach for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica.

The initiative, turned global movement, aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.

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Deborah Pardo

When it launched in 2016, Homeward Bound gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1,000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds, to undertake a year-long state-of-the-art program to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices. The inaugural program culminated in the largest-ever female expedition to Antarctica, in December 2016, with a focus on the leadership of women and the state of the world.

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Where do I sign up? I asked her following her talk. Serendipitously, the applications for the 2018 voyage were due three days later.

I rushed home and cleared my schedule for the weekend. I started to scroll through the online application and with each question my inner critic was pleading for me to quit. The questions ranged from Why are you suitable for Homeward Bound? To Given your science background, how do you think your leadership could influence policy and decision making? I even had to create a 2-minute elevator pitch and upload it to YouTube for their assessment.

I searched through last years’ participant videos and felt completely out of my league. These women were true leaders, leading inspirational lives. They were professors, heads of research organizations and environmental conservationists.

I, on the other hand, was a biochemist by training, I did my Ph.D. in Medical Life Science in Munich Germany and following my graduate studies, I stepped away from research. I never considered myself a leader and found the label very intimating.

Then there was the biggest catch. One of the project’s objectives is to be 100% self-funded, so not ‘not-for-profit’ and not ‘for-profit’. All women must contribute $16 000 USD. This covers the cost of being on the ship for 21 nights, hotel accommodation, faculty meetings, administration and operational contributions. On top of this, I would still need to pay for flights to our departure point at Ushuaia, Argentina.

I scrolled seemingly hundreds of times through the application and last years’ participant list, slowly talking myself out of applying. Then I saw a paragraph at the very of the application in BOLD. It said, We know women tend to only apply to positions where we feel we qualify 100%. We are here to tell you: JUST APPLY. We want women from a variety of STEM backgrounds at a variety of stages in the leadership journey. Sincerely, The Homeward Bound Team.

 

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Photo by Deborah Pardo

 

Then I started thinking of my own situation.

I am in a unique position. I am a scientist, chair of CamAWiSE and COO of the Cheeky Scientist Association, a global training platform for STEM academics looking to transition into industry. I have the ability to lead, influence and contribute to the lives of thousands of women and hopefully instill upon them confidence and encouragement to achieve their goals. My colleagues are located across Europe, Australia, India, and America, to name but a few countries. Building relationships, managing time zones and learning remote communication tools to enhance my leadership and strategical capability is not only a bonus but an absolute necessity for me to be successful in my current role and make a difference in the lives of others. I bring with me the voice of early career scientist that I counsel daily and know first hand their struggles, fears and dreams that need be heard in order to create policies to shape the future of our planet.

 

In particular, self-doubt within female PhDs is incredibly strong and inhibiting. I joined Homeward Bound to prove to those graduates that we can all be leaders and that leadership comes in many forms and from many fields.

To me, leadership is about finding out who you are as a person and using your gifts, your own unique attributes, to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. Leaders do not create a vision on their own but bring together the best team of individuals that together can achieve greatness. When a great leader steps down or moves on, the team not only remains strong but can thrive due to the lasting impression of that leader and confidence she instilled upon.

Homeward Bound is definitely outside my comfort zone, which is why I am even more driven to do it.

Two weeks after submitting my application, I received the congratulatory email that I was selected out of the hundreds of women across the globe that had applied. We will be stronger together!

If you would like to support my journey, please see my crowd funding page here: https://igg.me/at/fb1KLsOodu8

 

 

Let’s Get Quizzical: A women in STEM Quiz night

Join us!
A fun and relaxed evening of networking for women in STEM. A superb opportunity to meet other women in academia, industry, and enterprise at different career stages.

For part of the evening, we will have a fun thematic quiz night. How much do you know about women in STEM? Are you ready to win our big prize or will you be the wooden spoon?

And of course, as every year we have a special summer treat: famous Lucy Cavendish’s mini scones and strawberries & cream.

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Lucy Cavendish College
Reception rooms
Tuesday 18th July
20:00-22:00

Lucy Cavendish College is a walking distance from the City Center
There is plenty of space for your bike and free parking for attendees.

Book here!

 

 

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