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Low mood is common when you're out of work!
If you think you're not getting offered jobs because you have too much experience - here's what to do about it.
Skills – What are Yours?
Skills – What Are Yours? When you’re looking for a different job or want to progress in your current employment, you need to know what your skills are. Sounds simple, but is it really? If anyone asks me what my skill set is I sometimes have difficulty answering, possibly because I’m not a teacher, or a solicitor, or a bus driver. So in the past when asked I haven’t got a straightforward answer handy! When looking for a career change, it can be difficult to demonstrate you have the skills an employer is looking for. So I like to ask about transferable skills, which are more general skills which can be used in many different professions. An example of a transferable skill is driving – many of us have this skill but it does take quite a bit of practice to acquire it. When thinking of work, it can be useful in a range of jobs – courier, project worker, community nursing, and so on. I once asked a client what skills he had and he told me he didn’t have any, despite being a driver! When I pointed this out, he told me that driving wasn’t a skill because everyone can do it. Of course not everyone can drive, and I paid rather a lot of money to an instructor to learn this skill! It shows how often we can take for granted our skills because we can do them easily without thinking about them too much.
There are many other transferable skills that you might have that you don’t think about but may be able to use when looking for different work. For example if you are a parent, the skills involved in this are wide ranging and very varied. They might include being organised, having a high level of assertiveness (to stop bullying perhaps), being motivated (when you could really do without picking the toys up AGAIN today!), negotiating skills (ever tried to get a small person to eat a carrot? Or stop siblings fighting?), cooking, cleaning, comforting, taxi driver, being a economical with the truth (Santa does exist), teaching and coaching. The list could go on.
You can take any area of your life and think in this way about what your skills are. Of course if you haven’t had a career break you can think of the skills you have from your current role as well as your hobbies and interests. If you are very creative you might be able to think of how a particular skill is useful in helping you learn a particular task you have never done before in a potential new role.
If you are struggling to identify your own skills, or to fit your skills to a position you are applying for please do get in touch as I can help you with this.
Returning to Work After a Gap
It can be difficult to return to employment following a gap for any reason – whether that is because you have been looking after someone (bringing up a family or supporting a family member due to ill health), because you have suffered a health problem yourself, or if you have been working in a career and decide you would like to pursue a different direction.
Without recent experience in the field that you would like to move into, or without an idea of what it is you want to do it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many options open to you, and your path will be determined by a number of factors. These include your current financial situation, how long you want to work towards your chosen field (are you prepared to retrain or volunteer for a few years?), what your current skills are and what your values are. Its also wise to think about the opportunities that are available to you. Is it realistic to want to be the next Prime Minister? Well someone has to be but it’s important to know what might be involved in this and whether you think it is worth the effort.
Having a fixed idea of what you want to do can be helpful as it means you will be able to plan the steps you need to take quite easily, however there are disadvantages to this approach if you don’t have any flexibility and you are not prepared to change course if opportunities arise on the way to your chosen goal. However on the other hand not having any idea of where you want to go and being swayed by every potential opportunity that comes your way can be a massive barrier too. This is due to having too many opportunities and not focusing on any one thing, you are less likely to achieve any of them.
So the point of this article really is to point out that it is good to have a plan, but a plan that is flexible and one that is dynamic based on developments of the situation that invariably come up in your life. If you don’t know where to start, or you just need a little bit of help, I can help you to get onto the right path and help you to stay focused. Sometimes, just knowing that there is someone there asking how you are getting on with your plan can help you to stay focused and make sure you do all the things you say you are going to do!
If you need help to decide what next, or how to be successful in finding a job after taking a career break for whatever reason get in touch – Kelly@cygnetnortheast.com or phone 07881294894. Or you can use our contact form. We can help you to explain why you haven’t been in work in a positive way.
Do I Really Need a CV?
Many employers expect a candidate to fill in an application form to apply for a job so is it worth having a CV? I would say it is, for a few reasons. Putting the time and effort into developing a CV (or Curriculum Vitae to give it’s full name) will help you think about what skills you have and what you are interested in. The process will help you to think through what you are offering an employer and also what you hope to gain through employment. There can be a perception of a power imbalance when applying for a job, and in some cases this is true – the candidate needs a job to pay the bills and fulfill responsibilities. However, I encourage my clients to remember that when looking for a career change it is important not to lose sight of your values otherwise when you start work, it won’t be the right job for you and you won’t be happy. Having a CV will help you fill in application forms as you may be able to copy and paste from your CV into an application form to save you time. After all, filling in application after application is very time consuming and any tool to help you do this more quickly will be valuable.
If using a CV to apply for a job, it’s worth taking some time and making sure your CV reflects the job you are applying for. If we have a long career history it is likely that we have so many skills and so much experience we can’t possibly put it all into a CV because it would make it as long as a telephone directory. Your CV should be ideally one side of A4, two as a maximum.
A CV is a tool designed to make an employer take notice and want to find out more about you. I once had a client who was upset at having to cut out lots of information that he saw as relevant. He complained to me that the employer had commented on the lack of information and he had to phone the client to find out more. I told him this was exactly what was intended. The tool was a CV that gave just enough information for the employer to be interested in finding out more, without falling asleep. The employer rang and asked to meet the client. That is exactly the result intended. Don’t be tempted to put too much information in there. Employers are busy, and if it’s too difficult to read they won’t read it, it will go in the bin. Harsh but probably true.
There is so much more to talk about when it comes to building a CV, it’s impossible to cover it all in one blog post. However, I would encourage you to get in touch with me if this is an area you would like some help with. I encourage clients to write their own CV as it will then be a better reflection of themselves to give to the potential employer, but it can be difficult to know where to start. A CV is there to SELL a product (you as a worker) to an employer and it can be difficult to identify our own strengths and skills. I am a professional and find it easy to see skills in other people and help them to identify their skills, yet I struggle if anyone asks me this question! I do have to think (although I have a CV there to help me if I need it!). Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know you will have skills and experience gained from your work or life experience, but looking for work and selling what’s on offer to employers is often a completely different skill set. If you haven’t applied for a job in a long time it can be hard.
If we can help, get in touch through our contact form.