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Resign Gracefully

Resign with Grace

When you are offered a new job it can be tempting to stick two fingers up at the old one and the people you haven’t been seeing eye to eye with and skip off into the sunset. It’s probably not a good idea though because unless your new job is on the moon and you aren’t ever coming back, the chances are you will see your ex-colleagues in the future and it may get really awkward. So resign gracefully and keep your work mates sweet if you can!

Imagine bumping into your past boss at a network or conference when you are with your new colleagues? Do you avoid eye contact and hope they don’t speak to you? Or do you pretend nothing has happened and you’ve always been best friends? Well that might work but it doesn’t feel very authentic. Probably the best outcome is not to get into that situation in the first place and to keep it professional when you leave.

If you don’t act professionally when you leave your job it may impact on your reference, your future job prospects and your reputation.

There may of course be situations that mean that by the time you leave you aren’t on good terms with your colleagues anyhow, but that’s for another post!

So here are Cygnet’s top tips to resign gracefully.

1. Wait until you get an offer in writing from your new employer. If you resign before you have a job offer in writing you could end up without a job.

2. Check your contract and make sure you give the appropriate amount of notice. This should be in writing and given at the same time as you give verbal notice.

3. Keep your letter polite and explain what you have gained from your time in this job, don’t just focus on the reasons you want to leave. There may be an opportunity to give feedback about why you are moving on but it’s best to do this if asked. If you are asked, be balanced and constructive – don’t just say it’s the worst job you’ve ever had!

4. Tell your manager that you’re leaving before anyone else there. It’s the professional way to behave and you don’t want Suzie in accounts to tell them before you do.

5. Hand over your work – it’s important that your work is completed and that any clients and projects have a transition that works for both sides. Make sure you aren’t the reason for any issues.

6. Be nice! Don’t criticise or be overly negative. If there are genuine negative reasons for you leaving then address them through the proper channels.

7. Work hard. It’s important that you get all your work done before you go (if it’s realistic to be able to do so) There is nothing worse for those left behind to find a pile of files that haven’t been written up / followed up / dealt with correctly after someone’s departure.

8. If you have decided to leave and are offered an incentive to stay, be straight with the person offering the opportunity – whether or not that is to consider staying or your decision to leave has been made.

9. Say Thank You to everyone who has helped you achieve your goals in the company. You never know when you will meet them again and your grace is remembered and repaid!

10. Keep sensitive information confidential. It will help you maintain trust with past and future employers.

I hope this article helps you to resign gracefully, and if you have any advice to add please do leave them in the comments. We love to hear from our readers!

When you are ready to find your new job please do get in touch with us here.

Recruitment! Are You Excluding the Best Candidates?

Recruitment! Are You Excluding the Best Candidates?


Recruitment – chances are you don’t really enjoy it whether you are an employee or an employer.  If you’re an employee it is time consuming, you build your hopes up, you might have the perfect skills to do the job concerned – but can you put them across in the right way, employers don’t always get back to you and it can be a soul destroying experience.  If you’re an employer it’s also time consuming, you might not get the right person, it’s expensive and let’s face it – you would rather be getting on with running your business and doing what you love than sitting in a room listening to people churn out the answers they have been coached to say!  So for both sides it can be tedious and frustrating.  The recruitment process has been developed over a long time, but what – if anything can we do differently to make it more effective and efficient?
Modern recruitment tends to focus on experience.  Sometimes this is useful as it gives an indication of past success.  Or does it?  Just because someone has done something in the past, it doesn’t mean they made a good job of it.  Neither does it indicate whether or not they did it because they wanted to pay the bills, avoid trouble with their employer, or if they are really passionate about the work they were doing.  What about transferable experience?  Does it count in your process?  For example if a candidate has been employed in a workshop making doors, is this relevant to making tables, or are you going to disregard this in your recruitment?  Experience is no indicator of ability – if the candidate made a door, how well did they do it?  And how are you going to know this from asking them?  Sometimes a quick learner will be able to learn very easily a completely new skill, but have you excluded the best person for the job because they haven’t done it before?
As regards the tedious subject of application forms, the rationale behind their use can be readily understood.  They can make it easier to pick out the information an employer is looking for and all of the applications are in a standard format.  However, they are time consuming to put together, may not transfer over from one role to another very well, and the employer isn’t really seeing the potential in the candidates as they aren’t showing you what they think is important to them, and that might just give someone with potential an edge over the other people.  This of course depends on the job you are recruiting for.  You might need to hire someone with a certain level of knowledge already, or maybe it would be best to take someone with potential and train them up……  Maybe that application form is actually ruling out the best person for that job you are advertising, because the form is so onerous and they have so many other commitments that they decide not to fill it in.  Just think of the people with caring responsibilities who have so much to give but don’t apply because they are too busy working full time and looking after children or other family members in their spare time.  You might think these people would not be committed to your organisation and role, but actually these are the people who need the job the most so if they are treated well and their needs are met so they can do both, then they are likely to be committed and achieve within your organisation.  Covering letters are another waste of time in my view, especially if the application or CV is being sent by email – the candidate has to say something to introduce themselves in the email, yet some employers insist on a cover letter too.  Why?  It is just a collection of words that a candidate feels obliged to write in order to jump through another hoop.  I believe in efficiency, and if it isn’t necessary – don’t ask for it.  I believe in politeness and being respectful towards people and so I can see the argument for asking for a cover letter in some situations – for example it makes sense if you are asking for a CV and then you ask for a covering letter to give the candidates the opportunity to say a little bit more about how they meet the criteria for the job.  So that’s my perspective for an employer.  For an employee I would advise that you follow to the letter what the employer has asked for, even if it seems a little over the top.  If you aren’t going to spend the time following the instructions, it’s not worth applying in the first place.
Lies! Yes, shock horror! People tell lies to get jobs.  The question that will encourage most lies is probably “Why do you want the job?”  Well the real reason will probably be something along the lines of to pay the bills, its why most of us go to work.  So this question is going to get people saying how fantastic the company is, how it is their ambition or whatever else they can schmooze out of their mouth on the spur of the moment.  Why do employers ask this question?  Does the answer to this really tell you about the commitment of the candidate or does it just show you how tired the candidate is of having to make stuff up to try to jump through the hoops of the recruitment process?  If there are more candidates than jobs it is likely that the candidates you’re looking to recruit have had many interviews before this one- don’t forget, it might seem like you’re in charge but it’s actually quite difficult to find someone who will do the job well and fit in with your culture.  Do you really want to put people off by asking irrelevant questions or questions that encourage lies?
I mentioned the imbalance of power already and it is certainly a perspective I’ve come across many times.  Working with job seekers, they often think that the employer has all the power.  But do they really?  It’s actually the case that both sides have an unmet need and both sides have the potential to meet the need of the other.  The best candidates will also judge the quality of the employer and how they might be valued or not in that company.  Who wants to work for a company where they are treated like a number?  Or worse?
There is much current discussion about a skills gap. I believe there is a talent gap and that there is a stagnant pool of employees who are continually recruited into similar roles to ones they have done before when actually they have the potential to achieve so much more – but they’re not given the opportunity.  A candidate might not have experience of something in particular for a variety of reasons, mostly relating to opportunity. The employer should consider the possibility that the candidate may have untapped potential yet to be discovered.
There are so many different ways to find the right people for your company – so you need a strategy over the longer period.  Be creative and less prescriptive – you’re going to get the best people by using considered judgement as well as processes.  What about putting the person into a real situation rather than asking them to talk you through a situation?  What about asking what would they do instead of what have they done?  Recruitment should be an ongoing strategy – not a one off panic every time someone puts in their notice.
If you need help with recruitment, contact Kelly on 07881294894 or email kelly@cygnetnortheast.com

I Quit!

I Quit!

Having problems at work?  Feel like quitting?  This blog post will examine why it’s rarely a good idea to walk away from a job in the heat of the moment, or indeed because of problems in the workplace that are building up.

Rewind 10 years, and I did exactly that.  I had a minimum wage job following a redundancy and the negative impact of that job was quite substantially affecting my quality of life alongside some personal issues that I had at the time.  The combination of stress due to home and work was awful.  I endured the job for six months, but it felt like a lifetime.  I was contracted for 16 hours, but working 30 hours, so when it came to taking time off I couldn’t afford to take holidays as I would only get paid for 16 hours.  When I started I gave my new employer my P45, but the manager failed to pass this on and I didn’t realise it at the time but the whole time I was there I was paying emergency tax (which I did get back but I needed it at the time, not 8 months later).  The manager changed my hours on a weekly basis without consulting with me and this impacted on my childcare.  The final straw for me came when the manager changed my hours so that I was only working at times where I had to pay for childcare and not when the children were in school.  In tears I walked out of the workplace.  Thankfully, it didn’t impact on my life negatively but only because I had managed to secure a new job and was waiting for a start date which happened just a few weeks later. So walking away from this job might have been a disaster, but actually wasn’t!

I’ve been in other situations too, where people have told me that I couldn’t possibly return to work due to the impact the stress of the situation would have on my health.  But I did go back and I handled it so that I managed to make the situation as positive as it possibly could be under the circumstances.  The impact on my health was detrimental but if I hadn’t done it the long term consequences would have been enormous.

So, if you’re having problems at work, it’s important not to walk away but to use the policies and procedures of the organisation (also a requirement of the law) to ensure your position is strong when you do leave.  You must follow the policies (even if the company fails to) and ensure that you continue to do your job to the best of your ability.  Take notes of situations that arise as this might become necessary in the future as evidence.

If you work for a reputable company, then chances are that they will be as keen to put the situation right as you are.  However not all companies follow the guidelines they should and in these circumstances it is vital that you protect yourself as much as you are able to.  Your work impacts every aspect of your life so it’s important to be in a role that suits your circumstances as well as your values.

You can get free, independent advice from ACAS and it’s also a good idea to gain support from others around you, for example friends and family.  However, remember that the situation is confidential so it’s also important to ensure that you stay within the parameters of confidentiality.

Whilst you are in the midst of problems in the workplace, it can be a very stressful and intense environment.  After all, it is one of the few situations you are unable to remove yourself from without severe consequences.  If there is an argument at home it is easy to go into another room to calm down, but it’s not always possible at work – depending on the circumstances of your job.

There is usually a way of leaving your job without walking away from it.  If you walk away, you walk away from the security of the income stream you have had, you risk a negative reference when you apply for other jobs and you almost certainly will struggle with claiming benefits.  I advise my clients on this basis – as the old saying goes,

it’s easier to find a new job if you are working already.

How to Switch Careers

How to Switch Careers

This week’s blog will focus on how to make a career change, following a request by one of my followers on Facebook.  I don’t know if you’ve had this happen to you, but I personally have applied for quite a number of jobs over the past 10 – 15 years or so mainly due to short term funding in the voluntary sector where I have worked.  I have found that the jobs I have been successful in being offered are usually closely aligned with the sort of work I have been doing in the recent past, in a previous role.  The more people who apply for the job, the more they seem to focus on experience – whether their priority is with the client group or maybe a database they want you to use without having to give training.  The reason often given for not being offered a job is that someone else had more experience than me.  The problem is, how am I to gain that experience unless I am given the opportunity?  It is definitely not an easy issue to get round, especially if you have commitments to a mortgage, to paying off a loan, or to raising your family it can make changing career harder.   So if you are in a career that is not well suited to your values – you took it because it was well paid /  it offered you good job security /  it was what your father did / you fell into it by accident –  then what do you do?  Well the answer is that it depends.
I would start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How many years am I prepared to work towards my chosen career?
  • Can I afford to be without an income for the duration of retraining or is there an option for part time learning?
  • How motivated am I to do this?
  • Is it the right time?
  • If I am miserable at work, are there any ways I can minimise the factors that make me miserable?
  • Am I prepared to volunteer to gain experience?
  • Are there many opportunities in the career path that I would like to enter into, or is it very competitive?
  • Am I prepared to start in an entry level role again and work my way up?
  • If I have children, how will this impact on my decisions?

There may be a few more questions depending on your own personal circumstances, and this is before you have even explored the possibilities of career options.  Add in the fact that if you ask other people for help they will no doubt all have opinions – and let’s not be too hard on them they want to help! These suggestions can be really useful, or they can drown out our values and our inner voice so that we get so confused we really don’t know what to do or where to turn.  If you are facing this dilemma, please do get in touch.  I can help you work through your confusion and make some decisions based on what your own values are, to help you be true to yourself.  Whilst the suggestions of others can be helpful at times, you only have one life – why waste it on making other people happy?
If you want to go for it and would like some help to get where you want to go, please contact us.

Seize the day!

The Benefits of Independent Careers Advice

The Benefits of Independent Careers Advice

At the start of my career path, I went to a local college for some help to enroll onto a course.  I had decided I wanted to study childcare,  I was very young, and didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a career and someone made a suggestion which seemed as good as other course I could do at the time.  So there I was at the college, waiting to be seen by someone.  I ended up having a meeting with a member of staff who failed to help me with childcare and attempted to get me to enroll on a different course than the one I had told him I wanted to be on.  He didn’t listen to my needs and seemed to have an agenda which didn’t match my own.  As this happened about 18 years ago, I am a little vague on the detail now, but I will never forget how this treatment made me feel.  I ended up trying desperately to hold back the tears in the waiting area as I didn’t want anyone to see me cry in public.  I then ended up talking to someone else who happened to be a tutor on a childcare course and pointed me in the right direction.  However, despite the kindness of several members of staff I wasn’t given the correct information about childcare and the free places and to cut a long story short was unable to access those places at the start of the course.  Had I been given the correct information in the first instance, the situation would have been much less stressful.  I know now I am a careers adviser that I would have benefited from independent careers advise which might have helped me get to my chosen vocation in a more direct route than I took.  I completed the childcare course and decided (eventually) that it wasn’t the right career for me and went round the houses for years – joking along the way that I still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up!

So the point of that tale was that I really would have benefited at that point from someone who cared about my aspirations, listened to my needs and helped me explore my values and aspirations.   I am aware of other advice available around career changes, but much of the advice is there to encourage people onto a particular training course, or is mandatory as the government tries to support people back to work.

Most people at some point in their lives would benefit from independent careers guidance.  This can be on the start of their career path, where they are struggling to advance their career, facing a redundancy situation or thinking of retirement.  I believe that people who have access to independent careers advice will be empowered to tap into their own aspirations quicker than those who don’t.  We can have very well meaning people in our lives who can muddy the water when making decisions as they are helpful by making suggestions to us.  Sometimes this can prevent us from listening to our inner voices and tapping into our values and dreams.  I provide a space where open questions and a non judgmental attitude support you to find your own path, one that is right for you, your aspirations and your current circumstances.

If you would like independent careers guidance, contact Kelly today on 07881294894 or email Kelly@cygnetnortheast.com

Returning to Work After a Gap

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?

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.