Any Old Job Won’t Do

Everyday we make many decisions about what to wear, who to meet, what to do in our leisure time and where to go on summer holidays. When we purchase expensive items like houses and cars; making a decision on which one to buy can take considerable time as we need to factor in how much we can spend and assess how well it will meet the needs of our lifestyle.

Those of you who have been involved in planning a wedding will know the amount of time and effort it takes to decide on what you want and the many decisions that need to be made to make it happen.

Yet when it comes to deciding on what we want to do to earn a living most do not take the time to think it fully through and decide what it is we want from work.

Don’t settle for the first job that comes along, any old job won’t do. You have the power to decide what you would like to work at, just like you have the power to decide what to purchase, what to wear and so on. You just need to to go about it in the same way you make the other big decisions in your life. Go after it and make it happen.

Can’t get no Job Satisfaction?

In my experience, many people find the idea of making a career change appealing, however very few act on it. If you look at any recent   studies conducted on job satisfaction you will find that most people are dissatisfied with their current job and unfortunately this trend has been getting worse over the past twenty years.

So what can you do about it? The simple answer is to work with a career coach to help you identify:

  • Aspects of your current job that make you happy.
  • The type of work place environment you would like.
  • Other career possibilities that utilise your current knowledge and skillset.
  • Assess if your current job matches up with who you really are and if not what would?
  • The actions you need to do to get the job you will enjoy!

We are all the masters of own destiny but unfortunately most of us do not put enough time into deciding what we really want out of our lives. As a result our working life is shaped by accident rather than design. I was guilty of this for a long time but when I took action I have not looked back. If I can do this, you can too.

Are You Ready for Career Coaching?

Whether you are seeking to change career or want clarity on the career options available to you, successful coaching takes place when a good working relationship is formed between the coach and client.

In general, successful coaching has taken place if I have helped you identify the changes you need to make happen in order to achieve your goals, together with formulating an action plan and a commitment to see it through.

For successful coaching to occur, I must at all times be supportive and non-judgmental of your views, lifestyle and aspirations. I must observe, listen and ask questions to understand your situation, and to facilitate your thought process to formulate goals and set actions to achieve them. Constant encouragement must be given to act on the goals you set.

It is important that you view me as someone who can help, but who won’t provide all the answers or solutions.  Goals need to come from you and how they are measured agreed with me.

You know you are ready for coaching if you can enter into the sessions with an open mind and acknowledge that in order for a career change to take place it invariably requires you to change in some way, be it to acquire new skills, change some habits, behaviours or views.

I got an Interview, now what do I do?

I do quite a bit of work helping clients prepare for interview. Here are some of my observations and tips I hope you will find useful the next time you are asked to Interview.

What Employers Want Remember, the fact you have secured an interview means the recruiter or potential employer sees you as good match for the job based on the information provided in your CV. The purpose of the interview is to meet with you and firmly establish if you are:

  1. Someone who can do the job.
  2. Someone who really wants the job.
  3. Someone who will fit into the company culture.

To do this Interviewers will ask more detailed questions about the information in your CV, and questions geared towards getting a better sense of your personality, your verbal communication, your knowledge of the company and the position on offer.

First Things First Do your homework on the company prior to the interview. It’s certain you to be asked specific questions about your potential employer. At the very least you will need to know the main products and services they offer, together with some general information about their size (local and international presence), knowledge of the sector, and some basic information about turnover/profits.

Quite a number of companies will have this information dispersed throughout their website. In addition to this ‘google’ the company and see what other useful information comes back. Also use your network; you may also be in a position to discreetly ask friends, acquaintances or suppliers for some insight.

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail It is crucial to anticipate questions you will be asked in the interview. It’s likely you will be asked to give a summary of your career, your achievements (projects you were involved in and how you contributed towards them), and what attaches you to the company or role on offer. Prepare answers by writing them out, and work on them until they are balanced and succinct. Have a couple of mock interviews with either a career professional, trusted family member or friend to practice answering these questions along with questions you are not prepared for. This will give you the confidence to field questions put at you in the real interview. It also will help you remain calm and avoid waffling through answers.

On the Day of the Interview Never, ever, arrive late for Interview. Know exactly where you need to go, decide how you will get there and how long it will take. Make sure you allow for delays to your journey and aim to arrive 15 minutes beforehand. Do a dummy run if necessary. Avoid any last minute panic by deciding what to wear the day before and aim to present your appearance such that it attracts no remarks. Also if you are asked to bring references, birth certs, or other information, have it ready well in advance to avoid chasing around the house for them on the day of the interview.

Lights, Camera, Action! First impressions do matter; so in the first few moments of meeting your interviewers make sure to make eye contact and smile pleasantly; shake hands if offered. Be positive and enthusiastic in your outlook and always be courteous and polite towards the interviews. Answer questions honestly, if you don’t understand the question first time around ask for clarification. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, there is nothing worse than listening to someone stumbling through an answer to a question they know little or nothing about. In your answers or comments, avoid saying anything rude or negative about your previous employer or colleagues. Finally, have a few questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview if you are invited to do so. Thank the interviewers when the interview is over.

The a, b, c’s of Writing a CV and Cover Letter

Recently I have being helping a lot of my clients with their CV and Cover Letter. While advancements in technology has afforded us the opportunity to access vast amounts of information, information without knowledge can lead to confusion and frustration. Treads come and go, but I feel the following are the corner stones when writing a CV and Cover Letter. They also happen to be the areas I see clients struggle with most.

Size Matters Clients who have a substantial career track record will often struggle to keep their CV concise and focused. Potential employers and recruiters should not receive a CV of more than 2 pages. To help you with this, consider the following:

  1. For each role only describe the key responsibilities and achievements, keeping it to about two key achievements and four key responsibilities.
  2. Rather than using the ‘conventional’ chronological layout use the less common ‘Functional’ CV where you describe responsibilities and achievements under area’s of expertise.
  3. Leave out detail on roles you fulfilled that are not relevant to the job you are applying for.

And the Oscar Goes To My clients can quite easily describe day-to-day responsibilities, but often struggle when asked to think about achievements and how their actions positively impacted an organisation or situation.  It is crucial a CV contains your achievements as this gives potential employers some insight into your past performance. To help you with this try the following:

  1. As you review your skills and job duties one-by-one ask yourself what positive difference you made to your employer while you were performing that particular activity.
  2. Another way to look at it, identity a situation you were presented with or problem you encountered, and ask yourself what action did you take? What was the positive outcome? This is better known as the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result). There are plenty of examples if you search for them on the web.
  3. Remember achievements don’t need to be earth shattering. They just need to reflect the positive contributions you made to a company.

One Size Does Not Fit All A CV must be tailored to each job you  apply for. This is necessary because the job description for the role will dictate what skills, experience and achievements you need to put more emplasis on. To help you with this you can consider the following approach :

  1. Develop a ‘Master CV’ that contains detail in equal measure describing your skills, experience, achievements, education and so on. This CV is likely to be a longer than two pages.
  2. Make a separate copy of the ‘Master CV’ for each job you apply for.
  3. Based on the job description edit it so relevant information has sufficent detail and other information not so relevant is summarised or if necessary removed, keeping it all within two pages.

A Cover Letter Is Not A CV I came across a great quote that clearly states the difference between a cover letter and a CV.

“The CV focuses on you and the past. The cover letter focuses on the employer and the future. Tell the hiring professional what you can do to benefit the organization in the future. (12)”

Joyce Lain Kennedy

When writing a cover letter you can employ the structure described below.

  1. State how you have become aware of the position and that you wish to apply. Say why you’re attracted to the role/company – What is it about the company you admire? It can be a product or something they do or represent!
  2. Summarise your employment experience stating one or two achievements – all targeted towards the position on offer.
  3. Say why you’re a good fit for the company –Highlight some of your skills you feel you can bring to the role.
  4. End with an invitation.

At the same time it is important to point out a few things to avoid.

  1. Don’t misrepresent or put a positive spin on your skills, experience or achievements. Say it like it is.
  2. At the same time the cover letter must not come across as negative or pessimistic.
  3. Don’t fall into the trap of repeating all of whats on your CV. Stick to the structure outlined above.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to writing  excellent CV’s and Cover Letter’s that will grab an employer’s or recruiters attention.

The Road to Success is Paved with Failure

It’s a general misconception that successful people do everything right and have experienced nothing but success along the way. However, the truth is that successful people fail quite a lot of the time and use the learnings to build success.

Some well known examples can illustrate my point. Alex Ferguson the most successful British football manager of all time, has won 49 Trophies that includes 13 Premiership titles, and 2 Champion League titles. He achieved this by winning just under 60% of all games he was in charge of. The other 40% of games were either lost or drawn.

In his prime Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time won about 27% of the tournaments he entered, or to put it another way he won about one tournament in every four he entered. While it may not sound that impressive, most professional golfers making a successful living from the game will end their career’s with a win rate of about one or two percent.

Former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk formed a company in 2002 called Space X with the goal of creating the technologies (mainly Space Rockets) to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars. Their unsuccessful launch and landing attempts are generally well documented in the media, however each ‘failed’ attempt enables them make progress towards their goal, it’s only a matter of time before they get it right.

I have recognised failure is part of the road to success, and is necessary for learnings that ultimately act as building blocks for success.

Take the Stress Away from Making your CAO Choices

Leaving Cert year is stressful both for you and your parents. Even with the best career guidance schools can offer, you can struggle to identify the type of career you what to pursue. Indecision and uncertainty will act as a barrier towards getting qualifications to enter the workforce.  If you don’t know what you want, how can you work towards achieving it?

I will work with you identify the career you want to pursue, the education or training needed to make it happen and the Leaving Cert points you need to achieve. You will leave with clarity and a firm goal to work towards during your Leaving Cert year.

The stress of indecision will be removed and you can focus solely on getting the leaving cert points required to achieve your goal.

Feedback from some students I have worked with:

“With the stress of the leaving cert and having to decide where I would go next year and what I would do next year on me I decided to take action, having heard about you and what you do I decided, why not. I am eternally grateful for your help and would highly recommend you to anybody indecisive about their future whether it be an exam student or someone out of school for a number of years.”

“The coaching I received from Padraig was absolutely top class. Not only did he help me decide the career path I wish to go down, he also gave me a list of other possible avenues I could pursue. I came to Padraig with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in September for university and I left with a full CAO form (plus a few choices that I couldn’t fit on the list!) Thank you for your help Padraig!”

It’s not the End. It’s just the Beginning.

Earlier this year I read a survey from Career Zoo that suggested 70% of people expect to change jobs this year. While it does not indicate what portion will consider a career change, it’s a good indicator that a reasonable number will give it some consideration also.

This leads me to the topic of all the attention and pressure our leaving cert students receive surrounding results and places for college. It can seem like it’s almost treated like a life or death situation and failure to secure your preferred college course means you’re doomed forever more.

There’s one thing for sure, nowadays it’s unlikely any of us will get a ‘job for life’ or indeed want one, however it’s possible most of us will do some or all of the following:

  • Change job multiple times.
  • Change career or at least diversify within the profession.
  • Upskill by engaging in formal and ‘on the job’ training.

Putting the above into perspective, the leaving cert and the resulting scramble for college places is just the beginning of the journey. Any initial success or failure encountered at this stage is just the first step along the road where many will be taken. Plenty of successes and failures will be experienced along the way. Each choice you make will present you with expected and unexpected opportunities.

Be happy in the knowledge that you are on the cusp of a varied and interesting working life.

Leaving Cert: I didn’t get the Course I wanted…. What Next?

For those of you got the course you were looking for, well done, and best of luck on the next leg of your journey. If you didn’t get what you wanted, don’t panic; it’s not the end of the world.  You might think it is, but its not.

Here are some of my observations since I did the leaving cert over 25 years ago:

  1. It’s just a step further along the way to where you want to get to. If you didn’t get your top choices for further training and education, don’t worry; there is always an alternative route to get there. It might take a little longer, you might need to work a bit harder but the opportunities are there. You now need to take the time seek them out and evaluate each one.
  2. As you gain more training and experience, the relevance of your leaving cert becomes less and less.
  3. Do not those a course based on points. Choose it because it’s the course that will enable you pursue the Career you want.
  4. You have plenty of skills the leaving cert did not examine. You probably use them regularly, take them for granted and think nothing of them. You may also think everybody can do what you can do, but believe it or not, everybody can’t. So take the time to identify and value your skills early on and look to develop them further. Look at ways to earn a living using these skills because if it’s what you enjoy doing most, work will never feel like work.
  5. How well did you apply yourself to study? How well did you identify the right things to study? How well did you handle the pressure of exams? Answering these questions will help you learn about how you reacted when the pressure was on. You can use the experience to help you learn to prepare better for exams or other similar situations in the future.
  6. Past success does not necessarily lead to future success. Give it your best, apply yourself, if it doesn’t work, learn from it, accept the outcome and move on.
  7. Set goals and put a plan in place to work towards them, but don’t be too rigid. Life has a great way of presenting opportunities you never thought existed. Learn to spot them, and give consideration to them. It is likely you will work in different jobs throughout your life and possibly in different career sectors.

Finally, I‘m still trying to figure out where all those years has gone!! Don’t waste your precious time with jobs you don’t enjoy. Make your time count and enjoy it.

Why does a Business need a Coach?

I have encountered some confusion in the business community about the role of a Business Coach. One perception is the coach comes into the business gives advice or tells the business what to do and leaves; In other words, someone who tells you how you should run your business.  If you have had experience of this in the past then you have not hired a business coach.
Nobody knows your business better than you do, and no business coach should tell you what to do to make it better. You hire a business coach to help you define, clarify, and set clear direction to achieving a desired result or goal. Examples of this could be to:

  • Increase your customer base.
  • Increase your turnover.
  • Increase staff effectiveness.
  • Improve business process and efficiency.
  • Expand or scale up your business (Open new outlets).

In the relationship between the coach and you the business owner, it is the responsibility of the business coach to:

  • Observe, listen and ask probing questions to help clarify the goal or outcome you want to achieve.
  • Maintain unconditional positive regard towards you; the coach is at all times supportive and non-judgmental of your views, and business aspirations.
  • Use questioning techniques and tools to facilitate your own thought process.
  • Provide you with different perspectives to consider.
  • Help to formulate an action plan to achieve the goal and methods of assessing progress.
  • Encourage a commitment to action on the goal and hold you accountable as the plan is being executed.

If you’re seeking to grow your business why not employ the services of a business coach to help you make your goals a reality.