Ho ho ho! Tis’ the season to reflect on your career!
The festive season is upon us, and as you take the time to plan for the end of year vacations, we’d like to urge you to consider doing the same for your career. How do you feel about the progress you have made towards your long term career aspirations this year? What shifts should you be making in 2020?
Undergoing a career self-evaluation allows you to track the progress you’ve made, and identify opportunities to tap into, for your growth.
To kick you off, grab some warm chocolate and muffins and indulge in these reflective questions. Alternatively, you could consider taking our newly launched Career Happiness Assessment Tool.
- What is the proudest career goal I achieved this year?
Look back at the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Did you want to get a new job? To get promoted? To switch careers? To start your own business? Learn a new skill? Expand your network? Whatever it was; evaluate what steps you took to achieve them, and progress made. If you did not take any steps to achieve any of the goals, ask yourself why this is the case and come up with a strategy to implement your goal in the next year.
- What new things did I learn, that expanded my skills and knowledge?
Who are you becoming? When you look back at who you were at the beginning of the year; what new skills and knowledge have you gained? How did they add value to your work? Learning is a never-ending process that should always be a part of your career journey. If you did not learn any new skills, this likely means that you did not find new ways to improve the way you do things; whether in your work, in how you communicate, how you search for jobs or network, and so forth. This is regressive, and should not be the case in the New Year.
- What mistakes did I make this year, and what did I learn from them?
One of the many ways we are able to become better is by acknowledging our mistakes and taking the initiative to learn from them. Thomas Edison tested 10,000 bulbs to find the one that would light up our world. Here is an article we did that talks about being personally accountable at work. We hope you can also apply this article to other areas of your life.
- What are the areas I need to improve in?
In order to identify your areas of weaknesses, you need to honestly self-assess yourself. If you’re finding this difficult, you can utilize the relationships you have at work, or in your personal life to ask for feedback. Additionally, you can take up self- assessment tests on the internet to help you get a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses. An example is the 16 personality test that you can take for free.
- How did I step outside my comfort zone this year?
One of the key components of growth is how uncomfortable it can be. Often at times, getting to the next level in your career requires you to put yourself out there in diverse scenarios that may not be as conventional as you would like. This may include things like attending networking events to pitch a partnership as an introvert, or taking on more responsibilities outside of your JD, volunteering on the weekends in order to transition into a new career, and so forth.
- What does success mean to me?
Everyone’s definition of success is relative. For one person; it may be a healthy work-life balance, for the next; it could be a fat bank balance, for the next person; it could be the ability to work remotely as they please, and for another; it could be to become a CEO of an international company. So how do you define success for you? If your career life does not represent this definition, in what ways are you working towards it getting there?
- What changes do I need to make, to have a more fulfilled career life?
In all honesty, how satisfied are you with your career life? Do you not enjoy the work that you do? Are you unhappy with where you are now? Are you not adding value to your current workplace? Are you unaware of what career path you want to take? Now would be a good time to draw up a plan that can change this narrative. It may involve updating your CV and LinkedIn profile to kick off a new job search, taking up online courses to increase your skills, attending a career coaching program, and so on. No clue where to start? Talk to us, our Career Happiness Satisfaction Tool might kick you off in the right direction.
- What are my goals for the next year?
Last but not least, the next step should be to come up with next year’s goals. Take this opportunity to compare how they have changed from the goals you had at the beginning of the year and point out which areas you will need additional support in. As always, your goals should be SMART. If you’re afraid you may not hold yourself accountable to a high degree, now is a good time to seek out a trustworthy accountability partner. Read this article on, 8 ways to help you set and achieve your career goals in the New Year for more context
We hope you found the above questions useful. In addition, we’d like to share with you our recently launched Career Happiness Center where we have a myriad number of tools (articles, videos, checklists) as pertains to job hunting, succeeding in interviews, managing your boss career transition, etc. to help inform your 2020 goals and help you smash them!
As you begin to indulge in the festive season, we leave you with this profound quote by the late Anthony Bourdain; “If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river”.
Happy Festive Season!
Being unemployed is not a great feeling, and asking for help can feel daunting especially because you want to avoid coming across as a burden to others at all costs.
One big potential deal-breaker is how you communicate what you need. No matter what channel you use to ask for help; be it an email, a phone call, messaging someone on LinkedIn, or even just sending a Whatsapp message, you always have to display conciseness and professionalism to clearly showcase your request. As a recruiter, I often receive multiple emails of people who are job searching in my inbox every day. More often than not, the email contains just an attached CV, or several scanned documents of their academic qualifications, with a barely-there request for help, such as; “Find attached”, “Looking for a job”, “Connect me to a job” or just a plain “Hi”. All these are vague statements leave me unaware of how to help you. Which is why you’re reading this article right now.
We’d like to share briefly some of the ways we have witnessed job seekers seek help in a way that’s not useful when job searching:
- Sending blank emails either with no subject line, or message on the email body and just attaching their CVs. Refer to the first bullet point above.
- Sending very long emails and attaching a bazillion documents. Attaching your resume, with a short and clear message should do, for as long as it has a call for action.
- Pestering one to give you an advertised job, even though you’re absolutely not qualified. This is borderline unprofessional and could land you on a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s blacklist.
- Sharing a CV that is unprofessional, including but not limited to; bad formatting, grammatical errors, too much, or too little information. (watch our YouTube video, to see the top 5 things that will make your CV stand out)
- Displaying a strong sense of entitlement; refrain from feeling like you deserve special treatment because you were personally introduced to a recruiter or hiring manager for a certain job opportunity. Always remember that there are others like you who are looking to land that role.
Here are a few tips that will come in handy when requesting for help;
- Be specific – Anytime, you sent an email, a LinkedIn message, a Whatsapp message, and so forth, don’t shift the onus to the recipient to figure out what you want. Do you want them to introduce you to someone? Looking for an informational interview? Want them to store your CV in their database for future job opportunities? Recommend relevant job groups you can join? Read this article to get a feel of how you can request for help using written communication, which we’re sure you can also apply in in-person conversations (more on Google, of course)
- Display enthusiasm – While job searching is a draining process, asking for help shouldn’t be. Let your passion exude in your communication. Showcase your excitement for the next opportunity you want to take up, and the value you will add. This enthusiasm will likely be cascaded down by the recipients to their own networks and good may come out of this. Otherwise, there is no need to have a monotonous conversation that could be misinterpreted to show that you lacked enthusiasm and passion about your own career.
- Prioritize your networks – Of importance here, is to have a strong sense of awareness of the career goals you have for yourself so that you know who the right people or networks are, that you should reach out to first. For instance, mapping out the organizations you’re interested to work with and using your LinkedIn profile to see who you’re already connected to there is the first step, followed by messaging them with a clear request for assistance. Here’s an article we wrote about how you can use LinkedIn to land your next job. We also like to insist on the importance of utilizing your weak ties when job hunting. Read the linked article to learn more.
- Check-in regularly – Now, we’re not asking you to bombard people with emails or phone calls every other day. However, people are busy, and it’s easy for them to forget to do something you had requested of them. So it’s important that you remind them non-aggressively so that they carry out the request you had for them.
- Have an accountability partner – It’s very easy to get frustrated, and give up when you’ve tried everything, and nothing works when looking for a job. This is why having an accountability partner could help you not give up easily. Share your goals with them; e.g.: attend X networking events in a certain period of time, reach out to X amount of people on LinkedIn, follow up on X conversations by a certain period, and so on and so on. This sets a precedent that will prevent you from falling into the trap of doing the bare minimum when job hunting.
- Consider signing up for career coaching – In extreme scenarios, where you’re not sure where you should start, we highly recommend that you work with a career coach, to help you align your values and interests to a career path that will suit you. It is also an effective way to unpack some of the myths surrounding job searching, shift your mindset and gain clarity on what you want to pursue.
If this has been you/ is you, now you know and we hope you find our tips above useful and reroute your job hunting journey.
Last, but not least, read our blog to see some of the other ways you may be sabotaging your job search
Are you trying to figure out what next steps you should take in your career, and don’t know where to start? Reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’ll act as your thought partner, and help you navigate some of your most pressing career challenges!
Picture this; John works in the Marketing department of a medium-sized Tech company. He is constantly behind on deadlines, is always making excuses as a result and incessantly points out that his supervisor is unfair to him, because of the several performance improvement plans (PIPs) he has had to undertake in the past few months.
Does this sound like a familiar case that you have encountered in your organization, as a peer or manager? Or even more self-introspectively; have you been this person anywhere you have worked? If you answered yes to this question, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s unpack this, shall we?
When in a situation where it feels like you’re being attacked, our natural instinct is to become defensive. Which is why, when your supervisor asks about a deadline you missed, you are inclined to look for an excuse instead of taking accountability and renegotiating a new deadline, or just being truthful about why the deadline was not met. It’s difficult to point a finger at yourself instead of always shifting blame to an external factor. However, in order for you to advance; in your career, personal life and relationships, you need to learn to point the finger to yourself more often.
Personal accountability is a key driver for increasing individual and organization success. It is the choices or resolves to act diligently on all your roles and to accept the responsibility for the outcomes of your actions. How can you practice personal accountability at work, you ask?
- Setting SMART goals – Once you have a clear understanding of the expectations the organization has for you, ensure you set micro-goals for yourself, that you can use to work towards achieving your targets, or expected outcomes. Doing this ensures you don’t let things fall the crack, therefore not putting yourself in a precarious position of having to explain to your supervisor why certain things were not accomplished.
- Taking ownership of your work – This is strongly tied to taking initiative. Essentially, taking ownership is telling your teammates, and supervisors that they can trust you to do the right thing; to deliver on time, to be reliable and to keep your word. Ultimately, this creates a strong sense of trust in the team. Make sure you communicate your needs and ask for support as early as possible, to avoid a project from delaying, or from causing conflict as a result of your peers, or supervisor being affected. Also, ownership negates micromanagement, which we all know nobody likes.
- Asking for feedback – One of the most effective ways to self-improve and become better at your work is through receiving feedback. This should not only be exclusive to your supervisor, but also to your peers. Don’t always wait for the bi-annual performance review. Take the initiative to non-formally ask for feedback, on a periodic basis; based on the personal career or learning goals you have for yourself. Here is an article to guide you on how you can ask for feedback that will help you
- Learning from mistakes – Instead of obsessing over a mistake you made and seeing it as just that; use the opportunity to be a teachable moment. Most of the people you look up to, that are now experts in their field, got there by making mistakes and learning from them. In addition, use these opportunities to acknowledge any areas of improvement you need to work on; this may be in the form of on the job training or taking up an online course. Check out our post on 5 tips to accelerate your learning with online courses
- Self-introspection – This is where self-awareness comes into play. The more present you are, and the more you hold a mirror to yourself; about your work, ability to be reliable, how you relate to others, communicate your needs, and/or frustrations and so forth, the more likely you are to hold yourself accountable for your actions and foster a sense of trust with your peers, and managers.
In conclusion; form a habit of self-evaluation at work, where you refrain from unjustifiably blaming external factors for things you are able to change yourself. Ultimately, these habits are also able to inform you of what next steps you should take in your career, and may just reveal that you need to shift in a different direction!
We leave you with this quote, for emphasis purposes;
“Take accountability… Blame is the water in which many dreams and relationships drown.” -Steve Maraboli
Are you worried about paying hefty fees to increase your skills and knowledge in an area that will improve your abilities at work? Worry no more.
We are now entering the predicted most phenomenal era in workplaces. Predicted almost 20 years ago, the Future of Work is quickly revolutionizing everything we knew about the type of skills we need to thrive at work AND HOW to acquire them. Check out this list of skills you will need to stay relevant and adaptable in your profession.
As the year comes to an end, it’s always a good moment, to take a step back, evaluate the progress you have made in the year, and how you will continue learning and growing personally and professionally in the coming year.
One of the rapidly growing spaces in self-learning driven by technology, busy schedules and the need to learn more things faster, is online courses; which is slowly taking over universities, and with plenty of them being free, learning has become even more accessible.
Often, some of our career coachees have shared that they struggle to make effective use of these online courses. And today, we are happy to share with you a few tips to help you hack these new virtual universities.
The first step is to identify a gap you have; at work, in your personal life or even any interest, you have that you want to get good at, research what online courses you need to take, and then – intentionally set aside time to take up these courses.
Some of the sites we recommend and have tried are EDX, Udemy, Coursera, and Alison. Not all courses are free, but the cost is still cheaper in comparison to paying for a fully-fledged degree, or diploma.
Below are a few tips about how to succeed in taking online courses;
1. Set goals of what you want to learn– Write them down and adhere to them. Think about the value you want to gain after acquiring this new skill set or knowledge and how your work or life will turn around as a result. Visualizing what success will look like, keeps you on the disciplined track!
2. Allocate time for your online studying and STICK to it – By intentionally creating a time slot for taking your course(s), you’re able to plan your work and other commitments around it. Resolving to commit to your own goals is one of the hardest yet most powerful mind-sets you can develop. In addition, allocate time when your brain is most active and fresh, this ensures you are assimilating as much information as possible within short timeframes.
3. Create a space that will boost your concentration levels – Be it at the comfort of your living room, a café, at the park and so on. A learning space should be one that makes you focused, at ease and not fidgety and full of distractions.
4. Take note of what you’re learning – Have a notebook, or take notes on your laptop. This increases your retention levels and tracks the progress of what you’re learning.
5. Hold yourself accountable – Lastly, but not least; take charge of your own learning. Do periodic check-ins, get rid of ALL distractions, and look for an accountability partner who will hold you responsible. Do whatever it takes to take yourself forward!
Here is a list of more online course platforms that have been ranked the best on the World Wide Web. We hope you found these tips useful.
Let us know some of the other sites you have found useful and how you’ve organized yourself to succeed!
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As the year gears to an end, we’d like to share with you some of the ways we have seen job seekers sabotage their job search and why this may be the reason you’re not hearing back from recruiters, and/or employers.
With the unemployment rate spiking every year, it’s critical for you to be aware of how you can avoid falling into the following traps and up your job-hunting hustle.
– Sending mass applications, with NO due diligence– Now, sending mass applications is not necessarily the bigger problem here. However, if you’re sending them out with little, to no due diligence whatsoever, you’re likely hurting your chances of getting a job. As recruiters, we are able to tell every time a candidate did not do their homework on a job they applied for. This is especially the case for people who put in their applications for EVERY single job we advertise, regardless of the title, technicality, or years of experience required. As a job seeker, it’s critical that you take the time to understand more about the company and the role you’re applying for. Recruiters and employers put in a lot of time to draft a JD because they are seeking to attract the right people. Further, continuously ask yourself if you would be fulfilled in the jobs you are applying for and if the organization’s values are aligned to your own. If you’re just figuring out your career, check out this cool video we created with, 10 questions you should ask yourself when choosing a career.
– Repeatedly applying for jobs that you’re not qualified for– We are aware that some job seekers do this as a technique to have their profile enlisted in the recruiter’s/employer database. However, this can be done in a different way. You can ask to email your CV for future job consideration, or, you can sign up for the career mailer newsletter to receive direct job updates. Incessantly applying for roles you are not qualified for, shows a disregard of the job requirements the employer is looking for on your part could be interpreted as lack of intention and attention to detail.
– Disregarding application instructions- Aah, this is a big one that we have mentioned before. Most job seekers don’t view this as a roadblock to why their applications are not being considered. From our observation, there is still a lingering mind-set about what sending in an application ACTUALLY means. Only attaching your CV, when there were requests for you to attach other documents, or fill in an application form is not acceptable. We cannot fail to insist that for every job you intend to apply, you read and understand the application instructions carefully. Set aside time so that you don’t feel the need to rush and miss key instructions. Would you rather spend little time applying for a job without following instructions which increases the likelihood of you not being considered, or spend more time and send in a brilliant application?
– Only relying on job boards – We have previously touched on why it’s important to utilize multiple job hunting techniques when job hunting. We urge you to not only rely on job boards, as sometimes; not all jobs are advertised on online platforms, with the rise of social recruiting, several companies are sharing open roles through untraditional platforms such, Telegram, Whatsapp, or just headhunting on LinkedIn. Be proactive; go to networking events, connect to recruiters and employers on LinkedIn, join social media job groups and utilize the relationship you have with your weak ties. Sound unfamiliar? Read this insightful article on how you can get a job using your weak ties
Additional tips you can use to avoid sabotaging your job search:
– Always send in a PDF version of your CV and not a word document. It’s more professional and reduces the risk of information being altered. Besides that, with the increasing rise of AI, there are chances that your CV will first be read by a machine.
– When sending out requests for help; whether to a recruiter, a close network, or a weak tie, ensure your communication is clear, concise, and does not shift to the recipient the mental energy to know what exactly you want. (Stay tuned, for our upcoming article on how to ask for help, when job hunting!)
– Unless there is an utterly justifiable reason, do NOT burn bridges with people (employers or peers), who may inform a decision to get you hired by other employers in the future.
Friendly reminder that uncle Google is your friend, and there is plenty more you can find on the web on how you are sabotaging your job search and how to end that cycle.
Currently looking for a job? Read our article, 5 strategies to hack your job hunting hustle and stand out from the rest!
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