Z is for… Zzzzz!

As much as it is important to be proactive about your career development and proactive in your job. It is also important to rest, relax and take a break. There is no point in working yourself to death or burning yourself out. You are no use to anyone.

Rest Breaks At Work

What is your entitlement? Workers are usually entitled to rest breaks if they work for someone else. However their contract of employment may say that they are entitled to more or different work breaks.

If you work more than 6 hours a day you have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during your working day. This is usually your lunch break.

You also have a right to 11 hours rest between working days and the right to an uninterrupted 24 hours work free period each week (or 48 hours in each fortnight).

Your employer can say when you take your rest break provided it is in the middle of your working day and you are allowed to spend it away from your desk (or working area). Unless your contract of employment states otherwise a worker does not have a right to take smoking breaks.

There are of course different rules depending on the type of work you do but these rules are true for more office-based workers unless their contract of employment states otherwise.

So what if you are self-employed? 

You work the hours you want. It is more than likely tht you push yourself without breaks and challenge yourself more. So just make sure you get some rest breaks in (and some holiday).

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Y is for.. You Tube Marketing

If you are an employee (rather than an employer) you might think – what has marketing got to do with me? I have worked for a varierty of companies – some have dedicated marketing professionals – others leave it up to their employees.

In a small company taking on extra responsibility can get you noticed and work in your favour. Too often companies are reluctant to take advantage of youtube. Working in a senior-manager-heavy company I have found it important to take the time to explain online resources that can be utilised.  

What types of videos can we make for youtube? seems to be the most popular question I get asked. The advice I would give my own colleagues would be very different to the information that I might pass on to a friend working in a different industry. The type of video most suitable depends on your company, your brand, your product or service…

Think about what you like as a consumer. I find that the impressive demos, How-To and instructable videos work well.

Another approach is to think about the content that you have on your website  and complement it.  A more business-like approach is to embed interviews and client recommendations into your website – such simple starting points might go down better with a technology-adverse boss.

Whatever you do make sure your videos Inform, Educate, or Entertain.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper’s upcoming Career Development Workbook.

X is for…. X

X is for… X (and by X I mean roman numeral 10).

X (or 10) is a great number. A great number for lists. I love Top 10 Lists, and under L is for… Lists I wrote about keeping a list of my dream jobs (place to work). In my own personal career journal this takes the form of a Top 10 list (although it does not have to).

There are a number of “Top 10” lists that you should write (and review) as part of your career development:

I.   Top 10… Jobs 
This should be a list of your dream jobs, places that you would love to work etc. much like the list you wrote previously.

II.  Top 10… Clients or Projects
This list should be of opportunities you want to take advantage of – or the top clients and projects that you have worked on or if you are looking to the future – want to take on.

III.  Top 10… Achievements
The things that you have done in your career that you should be bragging about on your CV and in interviews.The things that should not go unmentioned.

IV.  Top 10 … Skills
Make this list simply so you have thought about what your best skills are – yes you may know what you can do, but take some time to think about what you excel at.  

V.  Top 10… Ways to Relax
It should not be all about work. know what you do for fun and to relax and enjoy yourself.  Too often it can feel like you just have work and then home life (cooking, cleaning sleeping). I write – what do you do?

VI. Top 10… Tips for Doing Your Job
How would you explain to someone how to do the job. What advice would you give to your successor?

VII. Top 10 … Improvements you would make
What would you improve about your job and what recommendations would you give to your boss if he asked (or gave you an unlimited budget).

VIII. Top 10… Things you love about your Job
How do you sell what you do? List what you love so when you have a bad day you can remember why you do the job and why you love it.

IX. Top 10… Resources
List the best external sources of information.

X. Top 10… Contacts
List your contacts in one handy place. Know who you can call on for advice, guidance and a good kick up the ass if necessary.

W is for… Word of Mouth

One of the strongest sources of job vacancies is Word ofMouth. It can be great for finding out more information about a vacancy, about a specific role or simply about a company.

Company Referral Schemes

A lot of larger or specilised companies will offer incentives to ther exisiting employees to refer colleague or friends for a job. This is usually a sum of money to their employee if they hire their referral or recommendation. Employees usually know some great people with the suitable skill set, a recommendation is usually also an endorsement that a candidate has good prospects.

With the right incentive and a good scheme in place a lot of great names will get handed over. You want to be one of these names. If you are a job seeker it is always worth asking friends, colleagues and networking contacts to let you know if they have any vacancies, as it is an incentive for them to check if they also have a referral scheme in place.

References and Reputation

Building up a good reputation and having a host of excellent endorsements or references is  another great way to use word of mouth to help you get a job – it may put your name in front of someone you didn’t know was hiring, or thinking of hiring.

And you never know – an informal chat with someone might even make them consider creating a vacancy for you.

Company Satisfaction

Even if you have found the job vacancy through other means, Word of Mouth is a great way about finding out more about a company, their work culture, employee satisfaction etc. You might be right for the job, but you should also be considering if the job is the right fit for you…

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper’s upcoming Career Development Workbook.

V is for… Vacancies

I have talked before about online resources which included a list of job search websites. Search Engines for job availabilities is the main way to find a job online.

But what other ways are there to find vacancies?

  • Job Search Websites
  • Industry Specific Websites
  • Recruiters
  • LinkedIn
  • Subscriptions
  • Word of Mouth (come back for tomorrow’s post for more on this).
  • Networking
  • Social Media
  • Newspapers
  • Internal Jobs Board

Whether you are actively looking or not – opportunities arise when you least expect it.

U is for… Up To Date

Keeping up to date with current affairs, market and industry news and developments regularly can easily be forgotten or overlooked. However, it is an essential part of career development.

The type of updates that you will need to keep on top of will depend on your job and the industry or sector you work in. If you are aiming for a promotion, expand your knowledge with updates that you would expect your boss to be reading.

Whatever your job, whatever your role – keeping up to date can be both interesting and beneficial. Here are some suggestions on keeping up to date:

  • Find a way to incorporate keeping up to date with current affairs into your daily routine and make it a habit. Watch the news at breakfast, listen to the radio during your communite, use a news app on your phone or read a newspaper or website during your lunch break. 
  •  Subscribe to Key Industry Publications. Sometimes your company will do this for you – so don’t be afraid to ask. If your boss already subscribes to a publication and is unwilling to shell out for another one – ask if you can read theirs when they are finished with it.
  • Sign up for e-newsletters or email updates.
  • Keep subscriptions to relevant websites or blogs. Have a section for work-related ones in your RSS reader of choice. 
  • Think outside the box and subscribe to other websites or blogs of interest that might reveal some relevant hidden gems. I also like to read technology updates to see if there is anything I can utilise. 
  • Find your update niche. Find a particular sub-topic that you are interested in and become the “go to” person for that topic. That little bit extra can go the long way particularly if no one else in your team has the same interest. 
This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper’s upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

T is for… Training


There are a number of courses readily available in our modern world whether these are run by professional bodies, dedicated companies, local universities, other local organisations or online these are all worth looking into and present you with different options. 
Courses – whether they are required by your job or not – are a great way of expanding your skills, knowledge and adding something to that all important CV. They are equally important regardless of whether you are a job-seeker, looking for a promotion or looking for a career change.
Training should feature as part of your overall objective, should feature in your Five Year Plan and should be a consideration when preparing for your appraisal.
Do you have a training budget? If not, not why not? Have you asked!
If work won’t provide you with the training (or you want to learn new skills outside of your job description) are you prepared to find the time to sit the course and fund it yourself? Yes? Then you need a training plan.
Before starting consider the answers to the following questions:

  1. What training have I already undertaken to get here?
  2. What training am I required to do by law or company policy?
  3. What training does my employer provide me with? 
  4. Is there any else they should be providing me with?
  5. Is there anything I already do online / in my free time?
  6. What training do I need for get the job/position I want?
  7. Will my employer provide me with this training?
  8. What form will this training take?
  9. Is there anything else I need to do myself?
  10. What is next?

Once you know the answer to these questions you can start to formulate a plan.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper’s upcoming Career Development Workbook.