Do you ever hold a mirror up to yourself when you feel stuck in your career? Do you ever wonder what you could be doing wrong that is preventing you from getting to that next level?
Career advancement means different things for different people; it could be a salary increase, a promotion, a new job with more responsibilities, a new career altogether, or, relocating to a different country and widening your intercultural skills.
Obviously, there are external factors that often are not in our control such as the current socio-economic system, a narrow job market, industry trends and so forth. However, we are capable of being in charge of factors such as motivation, discipline, commitment and how we implement the things that will get us to where we want to be.
We will, therefore, be talking about some of the things we can control in this post because if there’s ever been a good time to start being in charge of your career, it’s today.
1. Not seeking out learning opportunities – It’s 2020 and we can’t stop reminding you about The Future of Work and how it impacts our jobs today, in a very accelerated manner whose impact will be even more visible in the next few years. Self-driven upskilling is going to be your armor for staying in the front line of your career and smoothly transitioning through the different phases that may impact your job.
2. Not acknowledging constructive feedback – One of the major ways to self-improve is by utilizing feedback given to us by our supervisors, peers, and even family and friends. It’s important to have a sense of self-responsibility in order for us to critically analyze the feedback we’re given, and take the necessary steps to self-improve. Often, it’s easier to place blame on other factors instead of on ourselves, and this can prevent us from advancing in our careers because we fail to identify areas of growth we can work on. Read more about how to take constructive criticism and why it’s’ important to be accountable at work in this article that we wrote last year.
3. Not acting upon your career plans – It can feel good to talk about our career plans and fantasize about them actualizing. However, acting on them is more important. If you’re aware of where you want to be, don’t keep postponing the execution part of it. Go to that networking event, reach out to that hiring manager on LinkedIn, find a career coach to work with. Whatever it is, the time is now.
4. Imposter syndrome – You know when people congratulate you for your achievements and you resort to attributing it to lady luck or other external factors? Yet you know too well, that you put in the hard work and are actually good at your job? That’s imposter syndrome at work; “the fear of being revealed as a “fraud” or “imposter” who does not deserve the things he or she has obtained in life” (Wikipedia). Imposter syndrome feeds into our self-limitation and makes us feel as though we don’t deserve to thrive in the areas that we do in our lives, including our careers, thus preventing us from taking leaps that will advance it even further. If you’re going through this phase, here’s an article with a few tips on how you can combat it. You can also reach out to us to join our next Imposter Syndrome Master Class:)
5. Not communicating your career needs – If you keep quiet about your needs or fail to ask for help to get to the next level in your career, you’re really not helping yourself at all. If you’re in a job where your needs are not being met, where your expectations are perhaps unclear, you need to voice this. Don’t be afraid to follow up on that connection request you asked for two weeks ago, or ask to be assigned to a project you’re passionate about at work. People are not mind-readers, speak up 🙂
Have you experienced any of these? How have you dealt with them? We’d love to hear from you!
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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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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;
i) 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)
ii) 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.
iii) 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.
iv) 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.
v) 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.
vi) 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 deliberate choice to act diligently on all your roles and to accept responsibility for the outcomes of your actions. How can you practice personal accountability at work, you ask?
1. 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 through the cracks, therefore not putting yourself in a precarious position of having to explain to your supervisor why certain things were not accomplished.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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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LinkedIn has grown to become a KEY platform for job seekers and recruiters alike. Recruiters use LinkedIn to headhunt talented professionals who are a good fit for organizations they work in, or for clients they are hiring for.
Now, if you are a job seeker actively looking for a job, and want to be among the group of people recruiters reach out to, or are just wondering how you can use LinkedIn to get your next job, you’re in luck. It’s imperative for your LinkedIn profile to have the following elements, among others.
1. Have an up to date profile – This includes a professional profile picture, a relevant headline, and ALL your jobs listed on your profile. Ensure to include a summary of your responsibilities and achievements for your past roles. Additionally, use the LinkedIn feature to outline the skills that you possess in your career field. LinkedIn allows your connections to give you a rating of how good you are based on the experiences they have had with you; the higher the ratings, the higher your chances of being recognized by recruiters.
2. Show recruiters that you’re available – Now, if you have a job but are still looking to let recruiters know you are available, LinkedIn provides a feature that lets recruiters know, without showing your current employer, this article explains more on how to tell companies/recruiters you’re open for a new job. If you’re currently unemployed, you can highlight this on your profile by including this in your headline, for instance; “Currently open to new opportunities”. This makes it easier for recruiters to reach out to you with new opportunities.
3. Personalize and increase your connections – Don’t assume that it’s only the job of the recruiter or hiring manager to look for you. By adding more people and joining groups that are in your field of interest as well as recruiters, you’re able to likely learn more about new job opportunities, trends in the industry, and create a community of people whom you can comfortably engage with, because you’re in the same space. Learn more about how you can grow your network on LinkedIn
4. Follow organizations you’re interested in – Map out the organizations you would like to work for, and add them on LinkedIn. This will enable you to know of positions available in these organizations and provide you with an opportunity to learn more about them through the content that they share with their followers. This gives you an upper hand when you get an opportunity to apply for a job, or interview with them because you have more awareness of where they are as an organization.
5. Set job alerts – Do you find yourself forgetting to log into LinkedIn and see what job opportunities are there? Well, there’s an easy solution to that! LinkedIn allows you to set job alerts that come straight into your email inbox using different job titles, as well as specific organizations! Read this LinkedIn guide on how to set job alerts on the platform. You can also search more on YouTube where there are screen recordings if you’re new to LinkedIn. Isn’t the World Wide Web amazing?
Looking for a career thought partner to navigate some of the pressing challenges you have? Reach out to us today at email@example.com and join our career happiness seekers community.
If you haven’t already, read our blog post about how to get ready to succeed in an interview and possibly, get hired!
In the same spirit, we’re sharing with you some of the mistakes we have seen job seekers make in our interviews, which often limit their chances of proceeding to clients’ interviews 🙁 in a bid to ensure you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
1. Lack of preparation – in several cases, we have had candidates who came to our interviews lacking information necessitated to have a productive conversation. We know because; in certain instances, we have had to explain what our clients (organization candidate applied to) do.
Additional signs that show us that a candidate did not prepare effectively is not answering questions as asked, lacking structure in responses, an inability to tie their past experiences and achievements to the role they applied for, over-explaining something instead of being concise, and asking the wrong questions at the wrong time. Find our interview preps checklist here to see how you can prepare for your next interview.
2. Showing a lack of interest in participating in the interview/conversation – sometimes, a candidate will display a lack of enthusiasm in their communication style. If a recruiter has to constantly probe you to get more context in the responses you provide, chances are; you’re not too excited about the position you applied for.
Most, if not all employers are looking to hire people who are excited about their work and buy into their vision, this is especially the case if you’re applying to join one of the organizations we support; that are at the growth stage and are looking for team members to take their organizations to the next level. In relation to point one, researching the organization and figuring out how your own interests and career aspirations connect with the organization goes a long way in boosting your scores on motivation!
3. Body language mistakes – examples include; not maintaining eye contact, aggressive facial expressions, crossing your arms or legs, pointing and so forth. All these are potential signs of defensiveness. Now, we are all human and sometimes these are just triggered as a result of you not knowing how to answer a question or feeling like you’re being attacked. Always remember that by the fact you were invited for an interview, you stand a high chance of getting this job! Read more about how to avoid getting defensive in an interview in this article to get more context.
If you’re not sure or don’t have an answer to a question, ask for a chance to think more about it as the interview continues, or just say that you don’t have an appropriate response to provide.
4. Not asking any questions – Even if you did your research, and were well prepared for the interview, not asking questions in the interview may demonstrate that you’re not 100% committed to the role. The quality of the questions you ask is also important. Put more focus on the role and the organization, examples include: asking about the work culture, professional development opportunities that are available, what would be expected of you in the first three months, and so forth. Here is an article with questions to ask at the end of an interview that you can use as guidance.
Wondering why you may not have heard back from a recruiter and you’re not getting invited for interviews? Check out our blog post on the 5 mistakes you should avoid when making applications.
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