Category Archives: Outplacement

Interviews: The Opening Question: Tell me about Yourself

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INTERVIEW #1

The Opening – Setting the Scene – Steps to Crafting Your Inspiring Story

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” Oscar Wilde

Many interviews will start with the same prompt “Tell me about yourself”

Standard responses are along the lines of: “I studied (Major X) because I really wanted to make a difference in (Industry Y) and as you can see from my CV through my last job at (Company Z) I …

To move beyond this standard response to stand out from the crowd from the outset you need to craft “Your Inspiring Story” to show who you are as a person, not just a professional. To give meaning to what you will bring to the role and organisation.

The way your life has evolved, the things you’ve learned, your achievements, failures, dreams – these things are unique to you and make you more interesting than you perhaps realise. A good story is not a replication of your CV or LinkedIn profile, you need to go beyond that.

Steps to crafting your story:

Take an inventory of the chapters of your life – turning points that shaped who you are – what you learned, accomplished and experienced
Focus on memorable “aha” moments – vivid dimensions so people experience that moment with you
Uncover the themes in your story – what emerges as your passion – mentoring, research, relationship building, advancing knowledge …

http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com

Thinking is the Ultimate Human Resource

imagesBecause I help people in career transition, I sometimes get asked by people if I’m always able to tell people what job they should be doing and I have to explain that that’s not what I do. What I actually do is facilitate the process which allows people to come to this realisation themselves, in essence I help people to have clarity in their thinking and as I said in an earlier post if we have a question, problem or situation we also have the answer or solution.

My programmes also support job search, and I get asked if I always get people a job, to which I reply: ‘my role is to support people in getting the job themselves’. This may all sound very cliché but when I’m performing in my role at my very best, I’m merely the facilitator in helping people do things for themselves. I meet with my clients weekly, fortnightly or whatever time-frame which allows them to carry out the objectives agreed on in our session, and I always say to clients that the best work takes place away from the sessions, whether that’s research, networking or marketing themselves, these are the actions that will drive their programme in line with their needs and objectives outlined at the outset of our work together.

I sometimes use the analogy of a sports coach and the world of Career, Leadership and Executive Coaching evolved from the world of sport.  Many of my clients will have worked with a sports coach or personal trainer or will have an understanding of how these people help their clients – individuals or teams get the most from their performance, they don’t go out and play a game or do their fitness programme for them, they do however walk alongside them , supporting their motivation, determination and persistence in achieving their goals, they help them to continuously improve their performance and to be in a position to achieve things for themselves.

Clients will want to achieve the objectives outlined at the beginning of their programme for themselves. This gives them great satisfaction and the skills they gain throughout the process remain with them and indeed help to progress their career to the next level, because of their ability to recognise what’s unique about themselves in terms of their skills, experience, knowledge and attributes. This allows them to be confident in communicating this and effectively marketing themselves, whether in writing – job application, CV, and cover letter, or in person – interviews, or in networking situations. The experience they gain in building their networks in their chosen field also remains with them and gives them the impetuous to continue to develop strong relationships, allowing them to easily navigate and progress their career when the time is right.

I truly believe Thinking is the ultimate human resource and once people are confident in their ability to think for themselves and believe they have the answers they need within them, this instils the belief they can do for themselves. The ultimate satisfaction for me in my work is when my clients are confident in thinking and doing for themselves and creative thinking promotes creative doing.

Evolving Careers Players can help you manage and develop your career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

How to Answer Bizarre Interview Questions – Such as: How would you count the hairs on a cat!

imagesA client was asked this question when he was interviewing for a project management role at an investment bank in the City and was given a pen and paper, and calculator! to work it out. He was thankful of this because it gave him time to gather his thoughts and while he didn’t calculate he did scribble down a few thoughts.

His answer was: “He’d weigh one hair, then shave the cat and weigh all the hair he shaved off, he’d then divide the overall hair weight by the individual hair weight to get the number of hairs on the cat. He got the job!

What the interviewers were looking for was a candidate who could demonstrate their ability to think on the spot, showing creativity and intuitiveness as well as logical and practical thinking, including how they would go about solving difficult and even unusual challenges that might arise, and also to have conviction in their answer and the confidence to communicate this. The interviewer is more interested in how you get to an answer, as opposed to what the answer might be.

Such challenging questions are becoming ever more commonplace in interviews it seems, as employers seek to get past the polish and hire the best candidate. With so many self-help websites, candidates can be quite polished on standard interview questions, making it difficult for people to stand out if they ask the routine questions, so doing things differently will help them get to the best candidate.

Evolving Careers Players can help you “Get past the polish to hire the best candidate”. We support our clients in their selection process by devising role-play for real-play workplace scenarios, including a few quirky situations!, allowing you to get to know each candidate beyond ‘canned’ answers. They’re having to react in the moment allowing you to find the right person that both fits your company culture and can refresh your business with new ideas.

We deliver corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios, career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre,www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your requirements: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Check out one of the role-play scenarios we set up for a client who wanted a candidate to demonstrate how she would manage a team member who is resistant to being managed by a younger manager. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz3_3b06Kuk

Red Shoes, the Good Wife and a Pink Purse

????????????????????????????????????????My mum was born in an era when women always dressed up when leaving the house and that wasn’t for a night on the tiles but for everyday occasions like a trip to the local grocery store. I always remember her looking elegant and she had a penchant for clothes and accessories.

A few years ago when my mum was in her early 80’s she asked me if I could pick her up a piece of costume jewellery, she wanted a necklace. I asked what colour she’d like and I suggested perhaps something in beige, because it would be quite versatile and go with everything, like a pair of beige shoes. My mum gave me a horrified look and said she’d never wore beige shoes in her life, it was such a boring and uninspiring colour and that she always wore red shoes because they were more fun and different. My mum was always full of surprises and on reflection her uniqueness always stood out but in a very subtle way, I admit red shoes might not sound that subtle, they do I think give an insight into the fun element my mum has always brought to life and allowed her personality to shine through.

I’m a fan of the TV series The Good Wife and at the end of the 1st series I watched the interview with Daniel Lawson the costume designer where he spoke about the importance of each actor’s wardrobe in helping them develop their character and their story, He strived to have the wardrobe underscore what each actor was doing to help tell the story. It was important that the wardrobe didn’t upstage or detract in any way.

Then as the characters and their stories developed, he began to make subtle changes: for Alisha Florrick as she settled back into work and became more comfortable with her work environment and the situation she’d been saddled with, he began by having her wear more jewellery, allowing a glimpse into her personality. For Diane Lockhart who does pay attention to her style he had her wearing vintage pins which portray her as the businesswoman she is, chic and elegant. For Kalinda Sharma it was all about the job and she wore very minimal jewellery and wearing the same necklace was her thing. He did the same for the male characters in developing their style to support the development of their character and story.

This is the same for professionals in their work today, they want to look the part and they want to be taken seriously for their work but they also want to allow their personality to shine through and whether that’s a subtle development similar to Alisha once they become comfortable in their role and environment, or more obvious as with Diane to portray their fashion sense and being comfortable with their position of power, or like Kalinda keeping it minimal and making it about being good at  the job.  The people I know do this in a way that allows their personality shine through.

Interestingly I was working with a client recently preparing for the interview stages of a significant progressive career change and when she was selecting the clothes she would wear for the various stages of the process she met with a personal dresser who said she has never failed in dressing a client for success at interviews. The interviews were representative of the very different work environments across the world where my client’s work would take her to, from a multi cultural and community relations perspective. She needed and wanted to be respectful of this, while retaining her own style.

For me its my signature perfume, colourful lipsticks and my wacky pink Ted Baker purse, that has started many a conversation and brings a smile to people’s faces, and I think we all need something that allows our uniqueness, personality and fun side to shine through.

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you make an impact in your work through your uniqueness, allowing your personality to shine through. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Hiring the Best Person for the Job

imagesIn a Harvard Business Review article Kevin Ryan founder and CEO of Gilt Groupe suggests  going beyond the referees supplied by a candidate and utilising your network to find mutual contacts who can provide candid feedback  and asking the following questions:

▪ Would you hire this person again? If so, why and in what capacity? Of if not, why not?
▪ How would you describe the candidate’s ability to innovate, manage, lead, deal with ambiguity, get things done, and influence others?
▪ What were some of the best things this person accomplished? What could he or she have done better?
▪ In what type of culture, environment and role can you see this person excelling? In what type of role is he or she unlikely to be successful?
▪ Would you describe the candidate as a leader, a strategist, an executor, a collaborator, a thinker, or something else? Can you give me some examples to support your description?
▪ Do people enjoy working with this candidate, and would former co-workers want to work with him or her again?
▪ In what areas does the candidate need to improve?

Perhaps Kevin’s thinking and approach is quite radical, however its congruent with his philosophy that businesses succeed not because of a unique idea and vision but because of the people and its execution that matters, and execution relies on human talent which demands building and maintaining a high calibre team and in order to do this a candidates true potential needs to be understood. The approach described above supports the right decision being made for important hires and of course all hires are important.

Evolving Careers Players can help you in your selection process. Through Corporate Drama role-play we enable real-play work based scenarios. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Is it possible to make a career change into doing something completely different?

????????????????????????????????????????Well as you might expect in my opinion that would be yes, but be under no illusion it will take persistence, determination and a positive attitude – the three essential ingredients I continuously bang on about.

Not so long ago I was working with Karen a Polish client who moved here some years ago and was working in a leading retail organisation. Karen wanted to make a transition to work for a Human Rights organisation.

And so she went about her journey. We worked her CV to draw out previous experience, skills and attributes that were a better fit for the work she aspired to become involved in, to include the voluntary work she was doing with Amnesty International She tried in vain to connect with recruitment consultants and applied without success for various roles.

It was time to move the job search on and focus on building her network, but as a non UK National Karen’s contacts were limited, and so this was no easy feat and of course her job search campaign had to fit in with her work and other commitments.

She began to explore LinkedIn as a way to develop her network and connected with people in the industry, joined forum discussions and attended industry events. She compiled questions that she could ask that would enable her to understand how other people got into the industry, what their work involved on a day to day basis and what people perceived would happen in the future. I have to say of all my clients, she’s the one who has had most success with LinkedIn, in terms of building her network and I think this is because she has a lovely approach when connecting with people both in her written and verbal communication.

The weeks slipped into months and although she was progressing in terms of building her network and knowledge, nothing concrete was taking place. That is until she had her ‘Eureka’ moment. As part of her organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility they worked with a number of charities, one of which was a Human Rights organisation and through the organisation’s intranet she discovered an opportunity which involved a two day a week secondment for twenty six weeks. I never cease to be amazed how often what we’re looking for is on our door step!
And so she prepared her application which first had to be approved by her manager, who didn’t relish the prospect of losing her but at the same time wanted to support her. This then had to be presented to the board of directors and of course it was approved.

We discussed what she wanted to get out of the secondment over and above the hands on experience and she developed a plan to help her achieve her objectives. Karen is now getting stuck in and enjoying the process and I have every confidence this opportunity will support her in achieving her career goals.

So yes with persistence, determination and a positive attitude, it is possible to make a change change into doing something completely different.

*Published with client permission. Name has been changed.

Evolving Careers Players can help you establish your next career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Your CV Should Tell your Story

this-is-your-life-red-bookClients will often ask me if they should put interests/hobbies on their CV and without hesitation I respond ABSOLUTELY. I believe it’s so important when people are being interviewed that the interviewer/s take time to understand who they are as individuals, what’s unique and different about them over and above their skills, and experience in allowing an understanding of how they will perform in the role and be an ambassador for the organisation.

After all  we spend so much of our time in our job that there is a need to have a holistic view of what makes people tick, what motivates and inspires them and keeps them energised in their work and their life outside of work. Good organisations will want to understand and support this and quite frankly if I was being interviewed by an organisation that showed little interest in me other that my capability to perform on the job, I would make a very quick exit, simply because I need to know that the organisation values my happiness and well-being and in order to do that, they need to have this insight and understanding.

This allows me an understanding to how they value their employees which is important because the core of my work is supporting individuals and teams in being fulfilled in their careers, managing and developing their careers, which in turn impacts the organisation’s vision and business strategy.

Remember an interview is a two-way process, as much as you need to sell yourself to the organisation they need to sell themselves to you too. Good interviewers will give people the chance to tell their story, which in turn allows them to see an individual’s real potential. I’ll share a story about Mary to demonstrate what I mean.

When Mary and I began working together she was ready to move on from her current organisation, which no longer inspired her, it was in a sector that was quite progressive in a commercial sense but wasn’t in line with Mary’s values. Her internal fire for this type of organisation had burnt out and she felt she was putting on the mask of Chief Financial Officer every day whether with her team or at board meetings.

To facilitate her impending career move she began to connect with head hunters, all of whom were eager to represent her, by either putting her forward for a role they were already recruiting for, or to put her forward as a strong candidate to organisations they had a relationship with who might not have been actively recruiting for a specific position but were undergoing some changes that would benefit from having Mary on board, and of course being in a position to put forward a candidate of Mary’s calibre would strengthen the head hunters’ credibility and relationship with the organisation.

However as with many head hunters and recruitment consultants they were considering Mary for organisations similar to the one she wanted to move on from rather than taking the time to understand who she was as an individual to take into account her interests and potential across other industries and sectors. Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and in a competitive market this is how head hunters and recruitment consultants are forced to operate, simply because they have a stronger chance of securing a role for a candidate who is a better fit for the job specification in terms of their current experience.

Among Mary’s passions were a love for English Heritage and a love of animals. She supported charities in both her areas of interests, through donations and she was also a trustee and board member of her chosen charities, she did this in a voluntary capacity. She had also taken a two month sabbatical during which time she lived in a small community in remote Africa and worked alongside the local people offering her financial expertise to support them in developing a sustainable business strategy for the community which allowed them to be self-sufficient in promoting their social enterprise. At the end of the two months the community held a carnival in celebration of Mary’s support and she was even crowned queen of their village!

Along with all of this Mary also has her pilot’s licence and at weekends you’ll find her navigating the skies of Britain along with her husband a fellow enthusiast. Now Mary is quite unassuming and so you’d never really know these things about her and it would be unusual for it to come up in an interview situation, unless of course she has it on her CV and the interviewer is interested in finding out who she really is. Then of course the interviewer would see Mary’s true potential and would understand why she should be considered as a serious candidate for a role in an organisation or sector different to where she’s come from.

And so yes, do include your interests, hobbies on your CV and make your decision about joining an organisation based on how interested they are in understanding who you are as a person both in your work and your life outside of work. I also think by doing this you will demonstrate your attributes and I believe this is an important consideration for employers alongside the skills and experience represented on your CV.

Mary’s story does have a happy ending, she interviewed but was pipped at the post for a role in a charity that provided care for donkeys in developing countries, this may bring a smile to your face but the role of these donkeys is integral to the community and their owners needed to take better care of them to allow them to work at their best and to be taken care of when they could no longer work. Although Mary was disappointed not to secure the role, the experience gave her the belief that she could transition into a sector that has more meaning for her in line with her values and as since secured a role and is working for an organisation within the National Heritage.

*Published with client permission. Name has been changed.

Evolving Careers Players can help you establish your next career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com