job searching

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1920Career gaps happen for many reasons. From unexpected redundancy, to parenthood, time out, health issues or a change in career direction… Many jump to the conclusion that a career gap will look bad on their CV, but that doesn’t have to be the case!

The world of work is changing and careers are shifting and transforming more than ever. No longer is someone expected to stay in the same job for their whole working life. Flexible working patterns, transferable skills and freelancing are more common than ever. It’s up to you to own your career gap, use it as a positive time for reflection or even change, then head back into the job market ready to sell yourself to potential employers.

Avoiding The Careers Gap Trap

For many, taking a careers gap is not in ‘the plan’. Whatever the reason for your careers gap, realise that you are in charge! As Antoine Tirard and Claire Harbour-Lyell write in their book Disrupt Your Career: How To Navigate Unchartered Career Transitions and Thrive, “The difficulty with transitions is that most people are not well prepared for them… Transitions are seen more as exceptions, and are mostly viewed as negative events.”

Let’s take a moment to rewrite the age-old stereotype that career gaps are bad:

CAREER GAPS ARE NOT BAD!

Career gaps are only bad if you don’t manage to navigate this new landscape in front of you and find your way through.

Making the Most of your Careers Gap

If your career gap was involuntary, why not make the most of this time? Whether that means travelling to a country you’ve always wanted to visit, doing some voluntary work, retraining or just dedicating time to hobbies. Turn it into an opportunity for positive growth and development, which will give you energy and something to talk about when you re-enter the job market.

Going Back to Work after a Careers Gap

Going back to work following a careers gap can be daunting. Here are our top five tips to make sure your return to work goes smoothly…

  1. Embrace change. Your careers gap happened for a reason. Perhaps it’s time to change direction and find a new role that will leave you motivated and excited by work? Consider the parts of your previous jobs you’ve enjoyed, or not enjoyed. Talk to a careers coach, or ask me to do your LAB Profile! Use your careers gap to find a more fulfilling career.
  1. Be curious. It may be a long time since you were last applying for jobs. The job market, the world of work and the language changes all the time so don’t be afraid to seek help and advice. Attend events in your sectors of interest to get inside the heads of potential employers. What are they talking about? What challenges are they facing? What language do they use? Being curious is a great weapon and will give you amazing insights that will advance your job search.
  1. Grow your mind (and your mindset). Have a look at your CV. What’s missing? Maybe it hasn’t been updated in a while! Are there skills or experience gaps that you could use your time to fill? Open your mind to change. Don’t think about ‘when I did this’ or ‘when I worked at’. That didn’t work then, so why would it now? Have a growth mindset, you’re never too old to learn! 
  1. Tackle your career gap head on. When applying for new jobs, be up front about the reason for your careers gap! Employers are often put off by a gap on a CV but if you’ve already provided an explanation then you will overcome the first hurdle.
  1. Sell yourself (and your careers gap). How did you use your careers gap and what did it teach you? What did you learn about yourself and your motivations? People returning to work after a careers gap often have a clearer vision of where they’re going and what job they want to be doing, making you a strong candidate! Let the employer know.

If you’re facing a careers gap, look at it as a positive opportunity for change! It might be the push you need to go in a new career direction… 

Struggling to find your ideal career? Get in touch with Katherine to discuss how the LAB Profile could help you to find a job that leaves you feeling motivated and excited about work. Yes, that’s really possible!  

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jens-johnsson-205843Within 10 years, research predicts that 4 million UK jobs will be lost to robots. Robots have already become well established in many industries, taking over simple, more mundane workplace jobs as well as complex tasks.

They manage our stock rooms, farm our lands, vacuum our home. Robots can disarm bombs, operate our telephone systems, deliver our parcels and even perform complicated surgery! Technology is mind blowing.

As automation and artificial intelligence gets increasingly sophisticated, robots are going to be able to step in and complete more tasks more efficiently and more cost effectively than humans.

How can we compete with this new wave of super-candidates?  There is something we’ve got that they haven’t got!  Robots will never have soft skills…

What are soft skills? 

Soft skills are the personal attributes you have. Things like, being a good listener, or a team player. They’re the skills we have that are interpersonal, and ultimately affect how well you will get on with people both in and out of the workplace.

The most sought-after soft skills (according to Recruitment Buzz) are:

  1. Management skills
  2. Examples of responsibility
  3. Experience of training others
  4. Communication skills
  5. Planning skills
  6. Organisational skills
  7. Ability to be flexible
  8. Being competitive
  9. Being motivated
  10. Friendly! 

Why are soft skills so important when job searching? 

Job adverts often focus on the hard skills required to fill a role – technical skills that are directly relevant for the job advertised.

But employers are increasingly looking for candidates who have a mix of both hard and soft skills. They need to get an idea of HOW you do what you do as well as WHAT you do.

Soft skills will allow you to fit in with the organisation and excel in the role. What’s the point of an employee who can write software, but can’t listen to his manager and therefore doesn’t know what’s required? Or an employee who can speak fluent French, but can’t build relationships with clients?

No employer wants to hire a candidate who won’t get on well with their existing team. Soft skills are the key to finding the right fit, and avoiding unnecessary workplace issues.

How many soft skills are you demonstrating on your CV?

It’s astonishing that on average only 1 in 5 CVs mention soft skills, so most candidates are missing out on being considered for positions. I see a lot of technical CVs that don’t reference a single soft skill. No wonder employers aren’t interested in interviewing those candidates!

Next time you’re applying for a job, don’t forget to think about what soft skills might be required to successfully fill the role. Do you need to be a good communicator? A team player? Quick to make decisions? A strong leader? Great at networking? A strong negotiator? Confident when presenting? Or love to teach or train others?

Go back to the top 10 most sought-after soft skills we listed above. How many of those do you have? Which would be most relevant to the role you’re applying for? Now find a way to demonstrate those on your CV and showcase why you would be perfect for that role.   

By adding soft skills to your CV, you can stand out from the crowd and become the 1 in 5 who actually make it through the to the interview stage.

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Lately, I’ve attended a number of recruitment events. Sadly, I wasn’t amazed by how many fantastic candidates, enthusiastic employers or amazing job vacancies there were. Instead, what struck me most was how unprepared many attendees were! Both the candidates and the employers.

As a candidate, recruitment events can be invaluable. A chance to get face to face with employers who have real jobs, and show them who you are. But are you ready to grasp that opportunity?

JobFairQuiz

This is where the 6 Ps come in! As the saying goes, “Prior Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance” and here that certainly applies! Don’t waste your time attending recruitment events until you are ready and can put your best foot forward through that door.

After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. 

If you follow these steps and are prepared to network your socks off, you’ll leave a lasting impression at your next recruitment event!

Be Prepared! As you approach a stand, an employer may ask you… 

  • What could you bring to our organisation?
  • What motivates you?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1, 3, 5 years time?
  • We need someone who can XXX. Can you?

How would you respond?

Have some questions for them! This is a good way to demonstrate that you’re proactive and keen to know whether the company would be a good fit for you and your personality. Prepare questions such as: 

  • What are you looking for in a new employee?
  • Are there training / development opportunities?
  • Are you looking for skills or attitude?
  • What is your policy on work-life balance?

Next, complete our essential job event check list: JobFairChecklist

  • Get your Elevator Pitch right: Prepare a clear, concise pitch that you’ll be ready to present to potential employers. Remember, jobs fairs are essentially just networking events so prepare accordingly! Read more in our Career Ambitions Club (you can become a member for free!)
  • Go armed with an up to date CV and LinkedIn Profile: It’s important to have a current CV on hand at jobs fairs. But don’t neglect to update your LinkedIn profile too! If an employer finds discrepancies, they’re unlikely to hire you. Follow our tips to optimise your LinkedIn profile.
  • It’s not just your words that count! Your body language can give a lot away to a potential employer. Make sure that you are confident, open and make a good first impression. Read our guide to getting your body language right.
  • Know what you want. There’s no point wasting time attending recruitment events for the sake of it. The key is to know yourself, your innate motivations and what makes you tick. That way you’ll find a career that suits you – so you don’t have to repeat the process! This is where the LAB Profile steps in.

Now, scroll back up and give that quiz another go… what’s your goal this time? 

If you’ve followed all the steps in our guide, then you will be ready to impress those potential employers at your next recruitment event! Check out our events calendar to see what’s happening in the Cambridge area in the next few weeks. Good luck!  

If you’d like to have an informal chat with Katherine about preparing for your next career move, email her or call her on 01223 633535.

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CVBefore you read this blog, get a copy of your CV in front of you. Now, read it through. Every time you spot a ‘big-picture’ phrase such as ‘strategy’ or ‘initiative’, circle it. Is your CV beginning to look a little like a Venn diagram? Read on…  

As a career specialist, I often get job seekers approaching me and asking for help. Despite their best efforts, they’ve applied for hundreds of jobs and yet not managed to secure one. Why? 

The first step to job-seeking success lies with your CV. It’s your opening gambit to a recruiter, your first foot in the door, your one and only chance to make a great, lasting, first impression. So is your CV turning recruiters on, or turning them off?


When it comes to CVs, there are usually two categories:

  1. The ‘Big Picture’ CV: Using words such as strategy and initiative, these CVs aim to please. Targeting no one and no specific job, the wide-net approach is used to make the candidate appear well-rounded with skills and experience that could apply to any role. These CVs are the social equivalent of the crowd-pleasers, but are they actually pleasing anyone?
  1. The ‘Overly Detailed’ CV: These super-detailed CVs are super-specific, with words crammed into every nook and cranny of the page. Detailing every job from the village paper round to the time you looked after your sister’s friend’s child, a recruiter is likely to drown in the context included on an overly-detailed CV.

Which category does your CV fall into?

What are recruiters really looking for in a CV? 

Most CVs fail to clearly and concisely illustrate the challenges faced and outcomes achieved by a candidate in their past roles. It’s that simple!

Increasingly (and perhaps prompted by the often mentioned ‘skills-gap’) employers are hiring candidates who possess transferable skills. These soft skills can’t be learnt, while a new employee can quickly be trained up in the specific hard skills needed to fulfill a role.

Use your CV to demonstrate your transferable skills and how these have been put to good use in the past:

Challenge faced + outcome achieved = a great example of your value!

This is the secret equation that makes recruiters and hiring managers tick.

When hiring, recruiters want to be able to quickly and easily find out what value a candidate will bring to their organisation.

  • How are you going to overcome challenges and find solutions?
  • Will you tackle challenging situations head on or freeze in the spotlight?
  • How have you demonstrated this in your past positions?

Time is precious. Don’t waste your time sending off a CV that won’t get the recruiter or hiring managers attention! Invest a little time now getting your CV right and you will soon reap the rewards.

Remember, your CV is your first impression. Don’t let it be your last!  

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” – Steve Jobs

Want more tips on how to write the perfect CV and secure your dream job? Join the Career Ambitions Club today and access our Step By Step Guide to Writing a Powerful CV. Or get in touch with Katherine Wiid to find out how her years as a career and recruitment specialist could help your job search.

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As the seasons change, so does LinkedIn, so what are the latest changes to LinkedIn?LinkedIn

Since October 2016, LinkedIn has been rolling out its new user interface (or UI for short). It’s the biggest set of changes to LinkedIn since the launch in 2003. We’ve delved into this new look to help explain the changes and how to make the most of LinkedIn’s new functions…

Starting with LinkedIn’s new look. Instead of the old blue theme, the new LinkedIn is teal, grey and navy. The layout has changed, bringing it more in line with the mobile app and therefore more coherent across devices.

Now let’s explore LinkedIn’s new functions.

Of course, there are lots of changes to LinkedIn that we need to get to grips with. But in the meantime, we’ve whittled it down to the most useful (and important)…

homeHomepage: The new look homepage now features a mini preview of your personal profile to the left, which also gives you an indication of how many people are viewing your profile as well as your connections. At the top, you will find the update box, which now says ‘Share an article, photo, or update’, as well as a strong call to action ‘Write an article’ which takes you through to Publishing (more on this later).Share as article

While it looks fairly unchanged, the new newsfeed (or timeline) has been cleverly reworked behind the scenes, with a combination of algorithms and human curation ensuring that we are delivered more tailored and personal content.

SearchSearch: Some of the largest invisible changes to LinkedIn’s new roll out are to the search function. There are no longer the ‘advanced search’ options, meaning you can’t filter your results by name, title or postcode location. You can still filter by your level of connection, a wider location, company or so on. You can also now use LinkedIn’s search bar to find jobs, companies, groups and schools from the search bar.

meMe: The profile section has now become ‘Me’. Profiles have been redesigned, with the main image now much larger at 1536 x 738px. Profile images are slightly smaller and circular. The main change to note is that only the first two lines of your profile summary now show, unless a viewer clicks ‘See More’. So every word counts! The contact details have also moved to the right hand side of the profile page.

my networkMy Network: If you go to ‘My Network’ you will notice that a lot of the content seems to have changed. The page now just shows youconnections your pending invitations, as well as suggested connections. There is an overview of your current connections with a total number, and the option to ‘see all’. There is also the existing option to import contacts from email.

notificationsNotifications: Instead of a flag, notifications are now indicated by a bell and they have been granted their own page! It’s easier to see all your notifications, including endorsements, engagements, who’s viewing your profile, posts being shared, new jobs and so on…

messengingMessaging: What used to be Inbox has now transformed into the more streamline messaging. LinkedIn has introduced an instant messaging (or chat) function – allowing you to engage with connections more quickly and easily. It also allows you to click out of messaging yet continue your chat while you browse other pages on LinkedIn. Of course, the existing messaging inbox functions remain too

jobsJobs: LinkedIn’s smart new jobs portal combines networking with job hunting! The page shows any jobs you’ve saved, applied to or posted, as well as ‘Jobs you may be interested in’. This is where LinkedIn’s Premium membership really shines – it also shows which jobs you would be a ‘top applicant’ for by comparing you to others, as well as allowing you to contact recruiters directly and be a featured applicant.

lookupLookup: The final new feature to note is LinkedIn Lookup. It’s actually a separate app, but it’s a useful resource! The app allows you to search for people (by company and email address) before you head into a meeting with them. Allowing you to gather important background information before you are face to face!

With over 467 million users around the world, LinkedIn leads the way for job seekers and recruiters alike. Will you be LinkedIn or left out in 2017?


Do you need help to use LinkedIn effectively so that you can proactively manage your career? Then please get in touch with Katherine and Lindsey; we’d love to help.

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Recruitment Agencies – you can love them or hate them, however just like any relationship, it’s about knowing how to manage the relationship effectively. Remember, it’s not just what’s in it for you, but also what’s in it for them!

There are advantages and disadvantages to using Recruitment Agencies, and many of you may have experiences you’d like to share too on how to use (and not use) Recruitment Agencies.

Advantages

  • Specialist Recruitment Agencies in your field will recognise and understand your expertise
  • They can give you objective feedback on your Application and how to promote yourself
  • They will also have a good knowledge of the market place
  • They may have excellent contacts in organisations that could be of interest to you
  • They save you the time of searching for job opportunities.

Disadvantages (sadly all of these points below have been experienced by some of our clients)

  • Recruitment Agencies may be sympathetic about your situation, however do not have the time to invest in helping you with your issues
  • You may not always know who the client is until the last minute, which restricts your ability to fully research the company and interviewers
  • They decide which candidates are put forward for jobs – you may miss out or not know if the brief has changed
  • If you are looking for a Career Change, they may not listen to you and keep wanting to put you forward for roles similar to what you have done in the past
  • Can be quite impersonal and not keep in touch
  • May amend your CV and make mistakes.

Tips

  • Remember that Recruitment Agencies are not paid by you, they are paid by their client, the employer, so may have a different agenda to you
  • Don’t register with too many Recruitment Agencies – be selective. Choose those that either specialise in your Role or the Industry you are interested in
  • Ensure all communication with them is professional and build good rapport with the Recruitment Consultant
  • Always check that the Recruitment Agency is a member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the only professional body dedicated to representing the whole of the recruitment industry.

Are these tips useful but you have other questions you’d like to ask?

Why not come along to our next Executive Spotlight on 15 August How to Manage your Recruitment Consultant and find out how you can get in the head of a recruiter and maximise this relationship? You will have the opportunity to hear from Richard DeNetto of Whitehill Pelham, a leading Cambridge recruiter who specialises in Sales, Marketing, HR and Operations.

How to manage your Recruitment Consultant Executive Spotlight is on Thursday 15th August 2013 at 13:15 – 16:30. To find out how to book click here.

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We are very excited to finally be able to officially launch the Career Ambitions Club this week.

The Career Ambitions Club provides more cost effective outplacement support than ever before, helping professionals facing redundancy, changing career or who are currently lacking confidence – or direction – in their career.

 

Outplacement Support

We never know what’s around the corner. The downturn in the UK economy over the past few years has seen countless businesses suffer and led to a number of talented professionals and companies utilising outplacement services.

While redundancy can never really be considered good news, we have found that when outplacements are handled well, the added benefits are that staff morale is maintained and even improved.

Staff members feel valued and reassured and crucially, it has given individuals the opportunity to actually go and do something that they enjoy doing for a living.

Now, with the Career Ambitions Club, we are able to offer unprecedented levels of outplacement support, at a level tailored specifically to you.

Career Ambitions Club

The Career Ambitions Club has four different levels, enabling you to determine your preferred level and length of support.

All services entitle outplaced employees to membership of this exclusive club, allowing access to all of the online career tools within the club. Whatever level of support you choose, the Career Ambitions Club is able to give members the self-awareness, planning and expertise to achieve their true career potential.

Career Ambitions gave me clarity and support in just a few sessions that equated to significantly more help than 9 months with a global outplacement company that I know my former employer paid some £10k for!

 

The help I received around understanding myself, preparing my CV, coaching on interview approaches has all been instrumental in my landing an executive role.

Al Shah, Social Media Project Manager, GroupM

 

While professionals can receive valuable knowledge and information from one-off workshops, the Career Ambitions Club enables us to take it to a whole new level; offering members’ round-the-clock support, via exercises that explore career choices, CV and interview preparation and individual strengths and weaknesses.

By offering your employees such flexible outplacement support, you can ensure that your hard-working members of staff are able to move away from emotional turmoil and uncertainty and head towards achieving a positive career transition.

Sound interesting? Find out more about our Outplacement Services or visit the Career Ambitions Club.

Career Ambitions is dedicated to helping individuals realise their dreams by finding the career that is most suited to them. Contact us via support@careerambitions.co.uk or 01223 633535 to see how we can help you.

 

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Selling yourself

If you’re looking for a new job, networking is an extremely important part of the process. Its benefits are endless!

  • It enables you to meet the key people in your industry;
  • offers a chance for you to get your name and merits ‘out there’;
  • gain referrals
  • gives you experience of talking to the kind of people who you hope you will soon be working alongside.

With this in-mind, it’s important to keep an eye out for the right events in your area (such as the upcoming Pitching for Management event in Cambridge on the 6th February), which will help you to meet influencers within your chosen profession.

The most important tool within networking is the ‘Elevator speech’.

This is the term given to a 30 second speech, which is the time an average person will give you a ‘free pass’ to talk for before they either lose interest or have to get back to what they were previously doing.

The Elevator Speech is not about asking for a job, it is about ensuring that you connect with the right people. Though you can have different variants depending on your audience, it’s important that you have an Elevator Speech ready for any networking situation.

 Preparing your Elevator Speech

So, how do you concisely make the best first impression possible in 30 seconds?

Firstly, it is very important not to appear desperate! This is the quickest way to lose the interest of the person to whom you are speaking.  Remember, the person you’re speaking to may not be hiring (right now). However, they may know someone who is, which means you must approach the conversation as someone that is networking and looking to make contacts in the industry.

Other things to remember include:

Focus on key accomplishments:  Try to relate your ‘pitch’ to the type of position you are seeking. What have you previously achieved in their industry?

Avoid Labels: Most professions and industries can carry certain stereotypes.  As you only have 30 seconds to work with, it might be wise to avoid ‘labels’ at this stage. Be interesting, but leave something for later in the conversation.

Be natural: Yes, it’s effectively a pre-planned speech but it shouldn’t be obviously so! An obviously memorized speech will have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve and the other person will turn off very quickly.

Don’t be ‘me, me, me!’: While it is your window of opportunity, be careful to avoid repeating the word ‘I’ (ideally say it just once within your initial sentence). It is a conversation, after all.

Avoid jargon: To make an impact in 30 seconds, try to be concise and use simple, conversational language.

Prepare for follow-up questions:  Look beyond the initial 30 seconds and ensure that you’re suitably equipped with half-a-dozen follow-up questions that convey the depth of your knowledge of your chosen field.

Practice! Once you think you have a good Elevator Speech, the final steps are to write it down and then practice. Gather opinion from your friends and family and ensure what you’re saying what you’re saying becomes second nature.

While an important ‘elevator speech’ isn’t the be-all and end-all of job searching, being suitably equipped for all-manner of networking situations will only help your future career prospects.

Once you’re at a networking event, ensuring you’re prepared for the first 30 seconds of any meeting could just lead to the job opportunity you’ve been waiting for…

Career Ambitions regularly host Career Skills workshops that are FREE to those facing redundancy in the east of England. To find out more details, click here.

Career Ambitions is dedicated to helping individuals realise their dreams by finding the career that is most suited to them. Contact us via support@careerambitions.co.uk or 01223 633535 to see how we can help you.

 

 

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Have you recently been made redundant, are at risk of redundancy, or are just returning to work after a long absence?  We can help!

Why not come along to St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge on Friday 14 September 2012 to brush up on your CV writing and job search skills?

What’s it all about

Career Ambitions is actively promoting the Skills Support for Redundancy (SSR) Scheme which enables anyone living in the East of England access FREE support and training to give them the best possible chance of getting back into work.

As part of the free Scheme, this interactive workshop will:

  • Boost your confidence
  • Teach you how to Network effectively
  • Enable you to present a positive image and feel more at ease in interviews
  • Break down barriers that are holding you back
  • Explore up to date methods of successful job searching

To find out further details and see if you are eligible for the free support, click here.

Lindsey and Katherine are available to answer any questions and register your attendance on 01223 633535 or support@careerambitions.co.uk

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