How to polish your career


Each month we ask a leading Business Coach to share their methods with the3rdi.co.uk.

This month Sarah Corsar, founder of It’s Your Life Coaching shares her expertise on Career Coaching.

Career coaching is about helping individuals to recognise how they can be fulfilled and satisfied in their own careers, but in addition to this; career coaching is about building confidence and preparing individuals to get their foot in the door or make that all important next move.

“Having lived to tell the tale of a hectic corporate life within In-House Recruitment for two large blue chip organisations, I first set up my business nearly 4 years ago and I now specialise in sharing my expertise via coaching and training for organisations and individuals.”

SO WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Career coaching is about helping individuals to recognise how they can be fulfilled and satisfied in their own careers, but in addition to this; career coaching is about building confidence and preparing individuals to get their foot in the door or make that all important next move.

A FOOT IN THE DOOR

As part of the preparation for getting ‘in the zone ‘to put yourself in the job market it is so important to get that all important CV and covering letter right… you need to know yourself…your strengths/weaknesses, natural talents and abilities and always be prepared. My motto is: Prepare, prepare, prepare!Also remember you are the best marketing tool you have.

GETTING NOTICED

Whatever stage in your career you are at whether you have been made redundant or you are looking for promotion you need to make yourself standout from other applicants. This is even the golden rule when you are looking for an internal move with your current employer. To get you kick started into poll position; don’t forget that a covering letter can get you added brownie points. Even if one hasn’t been requested – it’s good to introduce yourself in a meaningful way. Covering letters are nearly always your first touch point with an employer – so think about making an impact. What it doesn’t mean is using a bundle of clich├ęd sentences on the end of a bullet point! You need to connect with passion about the job you’re applying for.

So in general for formatting, be succinct and clear highlighting where you noticed the ad and what grabbed your attention, state what makes you the best person for the job and what you have to offer and then sign off in a positive, expectant manner. Be factual about your experience and what you have to offer, but you don’t need to write an essay! You need to demonstrate you have all of the experience and knowledge required or you need to demonstrate your potential and your desire to grow into the role. Point the reader in the direction of your CV for the nitty gritty.

Always tailor your CV and covering letter to suit the role you have applied for – bland, flat applications which bear no relevance to the role do not get jobs!

Connect with the company; for example if you have noticed that the company is focused on reducing their Carbon Footprint and this is meaningful to you – mention how your values match as this will demonstrate you have done some research and also that you are looking for an organisation where you will fit in. Always review your application for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Also be neat in your layout and formatting as this gives a reflection to the employer regarding the effort you have made and what your work could be like when you get the role.

YOUR C.V.

With your CV, all of the above apply but the main thing to do is get into the mindset of the employer and think about what the employer is looking for. Remember that for one job there could be hundreds of applicants, which means that only the top few people will be taken to the next stage. Think about the key words the employer has used in their advert and how you can present yourself to be a close match. Employers do realise that it is not always possible to find the exact candidate, so they will look at whether you have the potential for growth to develop into a role or how your transferable skills can be used.

Have a really clear focus on the job you want. Take time out to brainstorm what you’ve been doing in your current role and what you have achieved. Give particular attention to any new skills or qualifications you have gained. This will demonstrate you are not prepared to standstill and you’re proactive about your own development – a big plus for an employer.

Ensure the language you use when describing your previous roles is positive and attention grabbing and shows evidence of your achievements. Bring your experience to life by providing back up facts and figures; which demonstrate your capability. For example you may wish to provide information relevant to managing a large-scale project or figures that show you can save the company money. Whatever you choose to use make sure the information is relevant – as this can be a powerful method to help you stand out.

OVERCOMING THE HURDLES

So how do you prepare for that all-important interview? Well, as selection and assessment techniques become more sophisticated; employers are now using a range of activities to see if you are the person for the job. These can range from a competency – based interview, team exercises, a role – play or a technical test of your ability. It doesn’t matter what you’ll be doing; you’ll be judged at every step of the way.

Throughout the process you want to ensure that you are making a good impression, remember the small things like calling to confirm you can attend, to arriving on time. Always be polite as well when dealing with anyone involved in the recruitment process. All of this – despite being common sense and obvious will help you stand out from the crowd.

Make sure you are prepared for your interview, you should be given enough time to prepare – but preparation will help you stand out head and shoulders above the rest. You will feel more confident and knowledgeable going into what is a somewhat artificial experience. Mull over from the advert and the job description what type of questions you are going to be asked and think about responses you could give. Remember employers like to understand what evidence you can show them from your past experience. Be specific; avoid generalisations or sweeping statements about your experience. i.e. I always provide outstanding customer service. It would be better to provide an example of how you did that in a certain situation. It will be much more powerful and will help paint a picture of how you could perform in the future.

Depending on the role, you could take a portfolio of your work if you think these will help to showcase your experience. Be mindful that employers do have a specified time for the interview so adding to that by bringing a talking point may add on time. Prepare something that the employer could take away with them.

If you have career gaps in your CV, it is highly likely you have not been idle during that time. Perhaps you’ve been on maternity leave or taking time out to study. These are valid reasons and you could have been adding valuable skills to your toolkit during that time. Take into consideration what you’ve achieved and how that time out enhanced your skills and developed your career. If you have worked on a voluntary basis or organised coffee mornings – you have some great experience to bring to the table. Be on time and make sure you’re well presented. Try and get some inside knowledge about dress code as you don’t want to feel over or underdressed. The more prepared you are the more in control of the situation you will feel. Always remember to smile and be yourself, as you’ll leave a lasting impression.

And finally – when you have the opportunity to meet with an employer you should have some questions up your sleeve too. Try not to go for abstract or random questions; which could put your interviewer on the spot. Prepare a few questions which are relevant to the job itself and perhaps about the team you are going to join. The questions you prepare will show how interested you are and if you have done any preparation. It will also demonstrate what actually matters to you.

EMPLOYERS OF CHOICE

You may have heard the term War on Talent. This is a phrase; which has been highly used over the last few years. Employers are recognising that if they are to meet their strategic goals they need to be cutting edge in terms of their approach in the marketplace – and yes; this includes their people!

Having the right person on board can help lead to an improved customer experience and enhanced business results. So you could be that person! Having this understanding can also help you prepare for interview, as you understand the business sense in employing the right person – you’ll take on the business mindset needed to get you your job. Remember to mention how you can improve customer service and assist in improving the bottom line. When you do this – the employer can’t help but want to talk with you more!

To this end, employers are spending millions ondesigning unique attraction strategies, attending networking events, organising job fairs, partnering with recruitment agencies, corporate induction days and training event. All of this; to be an employer of choice. So, when you are job-hunting;take into account you are an asset that any thriving, successful company cannot do without.

DIVERSITY & VALUES

Organisations are looking for a diverse workforce who matches their customer groups and that could be you. They’re looking for a good cultural fit and individuals who are aligned to their values. As this is the case you need to understand how you fit in. Company values are coming to the forefront of business strategy and are often linked to high-level goals. Whether these goals are widely known by employees or potential employees this is something that is key to getting the right person to help the company achieves its goals. Companies focused on values will make their values something that can be easily identified and are usually on corporate job search websites. When preparing for interview; imagine how you can align yourselves to the values and how you could live out those values day to day. You’ll then be able to position your view in a convincing way and demonstrate how you would strive to consistently embrace those values on the job.

CURRENT CLIMATE

Since September 2008 when the financial markets started to go into turmoil there have been more and more jobs put at risk. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development forecasted that 600,000 workers would face redundancy during 2009.It has also been forecasted that job cuts will continue into 2010, the Institute says more than a million people will lose their jobs during the course of the current recession. These are quite staggering figures. So if you have been hit by the recession I would urge you to think about what you are going to do to enhance your career at this time.

For some organisations there is no alternative at the moment – it is an inescapable part of how the current climate has led to traumatic losses where employees have been directly affected. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Working with a career coach like myself I can offer valuable support to help you explore choices and provide a sounding board for all those emotions you are experiencing. Look at it this way – redundancy could be a chance to change. It does n’t mean because you’ve been a Sales Manager for 20 years, that it was your dream job – you may wish to do something completely different. Think about taking stock and reassessing your career goals. You never know you may choose to change career altogether. You may even opt to retire early, travel the world or rest, or you may even emigrate. Another great option is developing yourself. Have you looked at some other field and thought that’s what I’d like to do! Well what’s stopping you! Invest in yourself and your career and reinvent yourself and have the career you have always wanted.

TIPS FOR 2010

1. Aim to get someclarity by goal setting and really identifying what it is you want from your career and how you are going to get there
2. Use your network and build solid professional relationships
3. Social networking – use major networking sites as a way to enhance your opportunities
4. Identify your obstacles and seek strategies for overcoming them
5. Prepare, prepare, prepare -from advert offer don’t leave any stone unturned
6. Establish what is stopping you from moving on if you are unsatisfied or unfulfilled in your current role so you will have the best year yet!

ABOUT SARAH

“I am married to Derek, have two fantastic children: gorgeous girls. I lives in Kinross, am six foot tall and love a bit of chaos. I always try to see the silver line in every cloud. I like The Sound of Music, being creative, helping others to be the best they can, real coffee, holidays with family, Monsoon, dancing, cooking, the opportunity to grab a couple of hours on my own (!), and generally hanging around with my family & reading inspirational books.”

“There are areas where my expertise can really make a difference – not only do I understand how challenging it is to be chasing the job your heart desires, I also know what employers are looking for. I want to share that information in a professional manner to help individuals make the most of every opportunity to have the satisfaction of reaching their career goals in what is a very competitive marketplace. I offer career coaching on a 1:1 basis or I can also provide in-house workshops.”
“These sessions are aimed at:

* Helping you to learn to control those interview nerves and overcome fear
* Enhancing your communication skills so that you are confident and engaging during the recruitment process
* Revealing tips regarding your business body language and how to make a difference
* Preparing you to perform to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses
* Helping you understand the rationale behind interview questions and how you can answer based on your experience<“/li>

You can contact Sarah on 07795313864 or email sarah.corsar@sky.com for more information
www.itsyourlifecoaching.co.uk

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