After reading a number of stories about those with aspirations to better themselves and secure their dream role it occurred to me that fear of the unknown or more so fear of failure are the major blockers to those wanting to reach their goals. Taking an easy road where you feel secure isn’t necessarily as safe as you may think – securing a position within a large organisation where you feel job security comes before your own career goals can really hinder you and be counterproductive. Taking the leap of faith by going after the career you believe is your forte can be far more rewarding and have equal risk to that faithful safe route. Not only will you feel as though you aren’t being utilised to your full potential you also run the risk of that time old “restructuring” which can inevitably mean redundancy. By researching what it takes to achieve your career goals and taking a few punts you will be taking the right steps towards reaching your full potential and general happiness.
Here’s an example:
John knew at university that he was a strong leader; he had a passion for creating and always felt he would be well suited to managing large construction programmes of work. However, John was worried he may falter along the way by having periods of unemployment as the route he felt was ideal often meant he would be working on contract not as an employee – who would pay the rent when he was between contracts? So he took a safe route as a large blue chip financial institution was offering graduate roles within their accounts department, he worked for years taking the appropriate qualifications and became a qualified accountant. Not a bad course to take but very limiting for someone who clearly had different aspirations. After 20 years faithful employment he was made redundant and because of the recession dip found himself struggling to secure a new role, he was also caught up in a catch 22 situation where a change in career seemed almost impossible. Every day became a struggle and his dreams of building were just that, dreams.
Had he taken the approach of the path less travelled and gained some experience in construction supporting large programmes of work and working his way up he would have no doubt come across the major construction stoppage during the recession but the outcome would have been different. He would be realising his dream and still had the period of unemployment/no contract. However the economy adapted and both fields picked up again for new roles, at least he’d be living his dream and the risks were equal.
Don’t be afraid to chase your career dreams – we spend far too much time working versus being at home, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Last month I worked with a client who we shall call Matt, he is a Project Manager who implements bespoke software solutions. Working closely with clients Matt takes the project from scoping in conjunction with the account management team right through to business as usual. Matt was made redundant at the end of December and decided to take a few weeks break as he had been with the company for a number of years and felt a short break with the comfort of his redundancy payout was well deserved. When Matt came to start applying for jobs (bearing in mind he had not been on the job market for a number of years), he found that his applications were going into a black hole – rarely receiving acknowledgement.
We talked through how he was applying for roles and he was covering all the usual approaches such as online applications, registering with agencies, making his CV searchable on all the large job websites and using his contacts for advice/referrals/insider information etc. I performed a review of Matt’s CV with him over the phone, pointing out the areas which weren’t adding value and also clarifying information, as it soon became clear that he was selling himself short with the information he was supplying.
At the end of the call, Matt told me he’d never had such a thorough review of his CV and that asking recruiters he was told it was OK. I pointed out that calling up already very busy recruiters for feedback might not be the best route as they are often just trying to get you off the phone so they can get on with filling roles. Also the recruiters might not have an in depth knowledge of Project Management and so wouldn’t really know where to start in teasing out the relevant information. At the end of the review, Matt explained he was very low on funds and couldn’t justify paying out for a professional CV writing service as his house was soon going to be at risk. I sensed his desperation and supplied him with some support documentation which together with his notes from the review would arm him to rewrite the CV himself. I offered to review the CV again once he had rewritten it and told him to spend some time over the weekend working on it.
On the following Monday I had another call from Matt who told me he needed to secure a job within 3 weeks and he had sat down to write his CV but was struggling to articulate himself, he decided to take the CV writing service and I promised to coach him in addition to sorting the CV. We worked together to create a fresh CV, performed a skills audit and worked through effective job application coaching.
At the start of the process, Matt was panicky and deflated – by the end (which we conducted an intense few sessions to quickly get him in a good position) he was reinvigorated and had a new found confidence in his abilities. Within hours of loading his CV online he had recruiters calling him and also started to receive call backs from the roles he applied direct to. Within a week he had 3 interviews secured, by week 2 he was on second interview stage with 2 companies and by week three he had an offer for a job he really wanted.
Advice I always give to those who are between contracts or made redundant is to try job applications with your current CV and see what kind of response you get, but always set aside a budget for support services such as CV writing and don’t waste your money on services which do not understand where you are coming from. You may not need the assistance, but as Matt found out, sometimes you may just need that helping hand. The most common comment I receive from those who contact me is that they just need to get through the door of the interview and they know they will do fine, but actually getting their foot through the door is the issue.