S is for… Skills Analysis

 Take some time to analyse your skills while reviewing job applications:

1. Review your Skills

Skills come into two categories:

  • Skills I have; and
  • Skills to Improve.

When reviewing your skills try and split them into these two categories. What skills do you already have? Try and write these down in the “Skills I have List”. Consider separately the skills you want to improve on or think you need for your ideal job. Write these down on the “Skills to Improve” list.

2. Analyse Job Descriptions

Next consider whether the skills to improve are the same skills you need for the jobs you are applying for.

When reviewing the “requirements” on job descriptions split them into the same two categories.  Only this time evidence the skills you do have and note which skills you need but do not have.

I review not only the jobs I am applying for but similar jobs. For example even if a job is a little outside of my commute and I won’t be applying for it I still consider the skill requirements as they might benefit a job I later do apply for.

3. Improve your Skills

Consider HOW you are going to improve or obtain these skills and whether you have the means and resources to do so.

It might be as simple as taking on an extra project at work, attending a course or you may just need to push a little further on something you are already doing.

4. Priorise those that are “required” or “important” for the job you are applying for.

Add an action to your to-do list for the HOW you are going to obtain the skills you need to improve. Then actively work through the list of skills to improve.

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

So you may have heard of recruitment specialists, but never used one or are not really sure what they do. Most recruitment consultants offer the following (confidential) services:

  • Career Development Advice
  • advice on the State of the Job Market
  • CV and Application Checking
  • Interview Training and Preparation
  • Information about Vacancies
  • Salary Information
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Knowledge of appropriate Contacts
  • Business Plan Preparation 

A word of warning though. Not all recruiters are good – do you research – find an appropriate recruiter for you industry and the type of company you are applying for a job with. Your colleagues, HR department and/or University will usually be happy to make recommendations. 

Q is for… Quotes

What quote have you got on your mug or cubicle at work? I have a mug with the (now) overused “Keep Calm and Carry On” but I love it. However I might just have to update it to…

One of my favourites in my workplace kitchen is “Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change you life”.

What is your favourite? Share your favourite workplace quotes in the comments.

P is for… Presentations


Does your employer do internal training sessions or regular updates as part of their training programme? If so, why not volunteer to give a presentation to your colleagues on a relevant topic? Quite frequently trainers are looking for internal presenters to plug the gaps between the external / headline speakers. 
Do this well and you will:

  • Make HR/your Boss/ the Organiser forever grateful
  • Draw yourself to the attention of those higher up the food-chain
  • Work on/improve on your presentation skills
  • Gain confidence 
  • Get your name out there… in the wind and possibly in print
  • Get the opportunity to talk with colleagues you don’t necessarily get to talk to your day-to-day job

Personally I hate giving presentations, but if you are well prepared and have researched your topic you will have no problem. 
Presentation Checklist:

  1. Approach your Boss or Event Organiser – Approach them with a few topics in mind. They might have suggestions but if you are pro-active you might get to talk about something you actually know about (or want an excuse to research further). 
  2. Research, draw up an outline and prepare your draft presentation – this is where the hard stuff starts – know what you are doing.
  3. Set / Confirm the date – this enables you to plan ahead. 
  4. Prepare Slides and/or handout – it is nice to have something prepared to prove that you are not just winging it – but don’t fall into the trap of being boring.
  5. Know the Procedure – if you are showing slides or preparing a handout check what the procedure / technology requirements are in advance: 
    a.       Does your presentation need to be in a particular format?

    b.      Does it need to be approved in advance?

    c.       Does it need to be sent to I.T in advance?

    d.      How are you showing the slides?

    e.      Do you have to prepare the copies of the Handouts? Or Do you send to someone else in advance to prepare?

    f.        Are they to be merged with other handouts/put in a pack?
  6.  Practice and test your presentation
  7.  Be Prepared and have fun. 

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

O is for… Online Resources

Today’s post is a linkage post. Below are a number of links for some great online resources for finding a job:

  1. gov.uk – Finding a Job
  2. A to Z of Careers
  3. Job Search Websites: Indeed, Fish 4 Jobs, Total Jobs, Monster and Jobsite are just a few of the general job hunting websites. Most industries also have there own specific job-hunting sites.
  4. Graduate Resources: Prospects, Milkround and Target Jobs
  5. Volunteering: DO-it!, VSO and CSV
  6. Inspiring Interns
  7. Brave New Talent 
  8. LinkedIn

Share your own in the comments 🙂

N is for… Networking

All I hear about these days (still) is social networking. So what about the good old-fashioned stuff – the face to face networking.

Are you still doing it?

Personally I usually try and do a minimum of one event a month. I participate in a number of free local organisations and groups. Some companies will also pay for membership fees of relevant organisations and sometimes there can be good local groups that are worth paying for membership yourself.

However, it is important to evaluate your networking experiences and make sure that they are a good use of your time. If not, move on and find something new.

Evaluate each networking event:

When evaluating your networking experiences consider:

  • How many people you met? How many you had a good conversation with and how many you got business cards from?
  • Were any of the people you met potential clients? Were there any potential clients in attendance? 
  • Did you have the opportunity to meet anyone you were specifically interested in meeting?

I try to do this at the end of each event I attend.

Evaluate whether you are particpating with good events:

When I find a good event I also find it useful to consider whether I could or should be doing more for an organisation if it runs events that I do find worthwhile. You should consider whether there any worthwhile “doing” opportunities to help you raise your profile and meet new people.

Are you simply along for the ride… observing… or are you being proactive and doing?

Re-evaluate your regular networking events:

Finally the other thing I consider and reconsider every once in a while is whether an event that had value still has value:

  • Are there too many people I already know? 
  • Am I meeting anyone new?
  • Any worthwhile connections or follow-ups come out of that particular event?

This way I continue to spend my time wisely.

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

M is for… Motivation

What is your motivation for getting a new job? For taking a new job? For pursuing a promotion?
Self-Motivation: Consider why you are applying for a job… consider why you have applied for the jobs you have done throughout your job history – what has been your motivation? What is your motivation now? Why are you applying for this job…