Common Interview Questions and how to approach them so you can get the job you want.
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Career Questions in partnership with Whiteacres Design.
Set Your Goals For 2015
As we hurtle ever closer to 2015, many of us will be thinking of new years resolutions, setting intentions or asking the universe for the things we would like to see more of. If you have had a difficult time in 2014 I am guessing you will be pleased to welcome in a new year and a new start. For me, I don’t place as much importance on the new year as I know other people do, however I will be setting some intentions and goals for myself and for my business in 2015. The benefits of doing this is that it can give you focus and help to keep you on track and motivated to achieve what you hope to in the future. Without a goal you can end up being distracted by other things that happen in life and then not achieve what you had hoped to. For example, how many times have you logged onto the internet for a specific piece of information only to get distracted by something else and before you know it an hour has gone by and you haven’t found out the information you went on to get? This is a simplistic example but this can happen in our lives if we don’t have a goal or an overall objective.
Goal setting can be difficult – how will you know what opportunities will present themselves during the year? A year is a long time! There are ways to deal with all of the issues you might face, and I will look at those things below.
- An overall wish for the year is a good place to start. This can be as creative and out there as you like. Many people will say something like “I’d like to win the lottery so I can retire.” If anyone says this to me, I challenge it. Do you really want to win the lottery? Look at some of the problems past lottery winners have faced…….
- Once you have a large goal it is beneficial to break it down into achievable smaller goals. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time limited). I think this can be tricky but with a little bit of guesswork and information gathering it can be done.
- Now think about your goal. Does it match with your values? Is it really realistic?
- The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. This is where you try it out. If it doesn’t work, that’s OK. Goals should not be set to be later used as a stick to beat yourself up with – be kind to yourself. If something isn’t working review the goal and ask why it didn’t work.
- Once you have done this, it’s important to revisit your goals and tweak them. Change whatever needs to be changed and carry on as before.
- Repeat this process throughout the year.
- If a new opportunity presents itself, ask if it fits in with your goals. If it does great! If it doesn’t, do you need to think about changing your goals again? Remember to ask if the new opportunity fits in with the values you had when setting your goals. Have your priorities changed?
- So in summary, a goal plan is very much a live document, to be changed and reviewed regularly.
- Staying motivated can be difficult, so this is why the goal must fit with your values and what you want to achieve. This is the reason that SMART is so important.
Goal setting can be tricky. But by thinking out what you want to achieve it can help you stay focussed. I run sessions on goal setting, so if you would like to know more, please get in touch.
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.
Job Rejection and Reflection.
Today, I would like to focus on how to overcome rejection when you apply for a job and either you don’t hear back or you get an interview and are unsuccessful. When applying for work it is beneficial to have an idea of what sort of work you would like and what sort of company you would like to work for, but then be flexible enough in your search so that if something comes up that you hadn’t thought of you can match it against those criteria and decide if you will apply. Its not a good idea to focus on particular job titles as these can be misleading and may not be what you are expecting. Its good to try not to get too focussed on one particular job that is advertised (sometimes easier said than done) and its not a good idea to be too narrow in your search, or too broad.
Once you have applied for some jobs it is sensible to keep on searching and applying for jobs that interest you. I have worked with clients who have applied for one or two jobs, and then they sit back and watch the phone or letter box on and just after the closing date, becoming more and more depressed if they don’t hear back and sometimes very angry that the employer hasn’t even responded to them. Unfortunately this approach is not only demoralising and demotivating – it is counter productive and you are much more likely to succeed in your job search if you carry on searching and applying, keeping good records of those you have applied for and moving on to the next application form or CV adaptation.
If you have an interview and are told you were unsuccessful, it is good practice and often advice to ask for feedback. This can help you in the future if you are given constructive reasons why you were not chosen for the job. However, I would advise that it is good to think about the reasons given and if they are constructive, accurate and based in fact. I have had an experience where I was told I missed something out of a presentation but no examples were given of what I had missed so was left without anything solid to build any improvements on. Of course this may not be the real reason for rejection. It could be something else that they would rather not tell you about for whatever reason that might be, it might be that they had someone in mind for the role already or that there was nothing you could improve on but they had to make a decision and this time it wasn’t you.
It is good to reflect on the interview and if you can constructively criticise it yourself. Often we can tell when we could have answered a question more thoroughly or thought of a better scenario of where we have demonstrated a skill or quality. Think of these examples and write them down as they might come up again in another interview. Don’t beat yourself up though – in the moment when we are being interviewed we are often nervous and don’t always perform at our best. Each interview we encounter is good practice for the next time we need to go through this and hopefully each time we can improve on the last one. The more interviews experienced, the less nervous you will feel (and if this is not the case then I recommend that you access some support around this.)
Eventually, if you have your technique well honed and you have the skills needed you will be successful in changing your job. It is a matter of time, and a numbers game. The more applications you make the more chance you have of securing that role. If you take the rejection personally and give up, this is obviously not going to help you get a new job. It will of course take patience and resilience to achieve this goal, but keep going! Remember there are many people who apply for a job usually, with only one vacancy available. If you are getting interviews you are doing well and will be successful . If not you need to look at why you aren’t – do you need more training? Experience? Do you need to look at the information you are putting into the application forms?
There is help available for each stage of this process, so make sure you get it. If you need help to stay on track ask someone you know to hold you to account for the number of jobs you apply for etc. There is no need to do this alone – it is a difficult and time consuming time, so don’t give yourself a hard time if you don’t succeed – remember each application you fill in is taking you a step closer to your goal!
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.