Managing your Career

It is important to periodically review your career development strategy. Roles are continually affected by such as technological and structural change, legislation, competition and the appointment of new Senior Executives.

Keep up to date with the politics and culture of your business, understand the dynamics and market yourself effectively. Avoid working in 'dead-end' situations or becoming involved with activities that have a high risk of failure. Constantly try and broaden your role to avoid becoming entrapped in something going no-where.

Keep learning and developing and trying new things. Keep appraising your own progress and take active steps to safeguard and protect your career.

View your career as an investment

You have invested significant time in your education and professional qualifications and in developing your career to date. Continue to control and develop that investment wisely

Keep up to Date

Read widely and know what is happening in your area of expertise. Know your marketability.

Learn new things

Avoid repetition. Try new things and look to develop new skills

Review your own performance

Periodically undertake a self-analysis to determine your progress. What have you not achieved you set out to? How do you now compare to your peer group? Maintain an effective Personal Development Plan.

Keep your personal network healthy

Keep a note of all contacts no matter how obscure they may seem at the time. You never know when you may need them

Consider carefully the impact of any new boss

What does he/she want from you? How can you meet expectations? Is there a 'chemistry' fit? If you get the wrong answers to these questions it may be time to negotiate your exit.

Your career is your own responsibility

Preparing your CV

There is no perfect cv, and whilst we can create a model, the document must represent the individual, who they are and their character, and what they have and can deliver

Take considerable care and time in constructing your document.

Purpose of a CV

•  To be the central part of your personal marketing literature.

•  To gain you an interview

•  To arouse the interest of those who read it.

•  To allow you to demonstrate the skills and the benefits you can bring to an organisation.

•  Your cv could be one of a hundred or more and thus may not get more than a 20 second glance. Remember an initial cv screen by a recruiter is to exclude not include - you need to make sure you are still in play after this first sift.

•  To open a door not close it

•  It is a selling document. If you do not package yourself attractively the employer may not recognise what is for sale - you could be passed over by someone who has a glossy front but not much in the ingredients. 

The CV cannot

•  Get you a job - only you can do that

A good CV will be

•  Interesting - positive, relevant and information presented in short punchy sentences. Bullet points-not long sentences.

•  Attractive/Structured - well laid out, plenty of space and an attractive typeface in black ink. If hard copy use good quality paper. Definitely no photos or colour.

•  Informative - presenting achievements, skills and experience without the clutter of non essential information

•  Professional - revealing a clear thinking individual with an appropriate mix of achievements, skills, experience and personal attributes. Get your personality and positive attributes through to the reader.

•  Short/Concise - 2/3 pages. Every word or phrase must earn its place

•  Factual - accurate and specific. Quantify achievements-work and education. Be able to justify and demonstrate what is stated. Do not leave gaps in your career history - they only raise an unanswered question.

It is not necessary to include your reasons for leaving each job - but you must be prepared to answer these questions at interview.

If you are sending your cv by email send it to yourself first to make sure it is formatted and presented correctly.

Make sure there are no grammatical errors and definitely no spelling mistakes

Types of CV

There are two types of cv.

Chronological cv's are the traditional approach to cv writing.

However, for some people they are not appropriate and a Functional or Competency based cv is more relevant .

For example if you have had a number of unrelated jobs it might be more important to emphasis key skills/competencies and achievements rather than a long list of unrelated jobs.

Similarly if you do not wish to emphasise a number of job changes, where you wish to de-emphasise age or where you have been doing the same job for a very long time .

The Chronological CV

This is not 'one size fits all' as we still have to remember the purpose of the document i.e. to market and sell. If some of the following headings detract from that we have to think of a different way to get the key messages across. However, research would indicate that employers favour the following style-

•  Personal details - name (exclude middle name or letter), address, email address, date of birth, contact details (home and mobile), marital status, nationality. Avoid wife's/children's names, religion etc

•  Personal Profile - a short profile can often act as an immediate differentiator and should be used in these circumstances. If the profile could apply to 500 other people then we should question what benefit it provides.

•  Professional Qualifications - State the qualification and date of membership. If you have 1st time passes you should say so.

•  Education - reverse order with university before school. List your achievements and grades. This information is more important if you have recently joined the job market and clearly less so if you have worked for 20 years.

•  Languages - highlight these only if you are at intermediate level or above. O Level French from 10 years ago is unlikely to impress

•  Career Summary - in reverse chronological order. This provides an overview of your career to date. It should include Dates, Company, Positions, and Sector. This can demonstrate real career progression.

•  Career History - or sometimes Recent Career History. This should be in reverse chronological order. Include a brief Company profile, key responsibilities, reporting lines and most importantly achievements and proje cts delivered. Achievements should not only be actions but the impact those actions had. It is also possible to demonstrate some of your key competencies through your achievements. Quantify as much as possible - this is much more powerful than qualitative information. The focus should be on the most recent jobs not those of 15 years ago

•  IT/IS Skills - record the key skills, not every single IS that you might have had some experience of

•  Training Courses - summary of the main and relevant courses attended

•  Hobbies and Interests - if they add real value and say something more about you include them but omit if of no value

Do not include:

•  Salary and Benefits

•  References

Think about your cv every time you apply for a job. Ask yourself whether it is relevant for that particular role/company. You should never have to completely rewrite your cv for every application but there may be some points that need more or less emphasis. Try to avoid 'just going through the motions' - think before acting.

Bringing the CV to life

Use action verbs - each of your achievements should start with an action word

Analysed Achieved Approved
Completed Created Delivered
Designed Developed Directed
Doubled Enhanced Expanded
Exceeded Improved Increased
Initiated Instigated Launched
Negotiated Originated Planned
Restructured Set up Spearheaded
Transformed Tripled  

Remember if page 1 of your cv is not punchy and attractive page 2 will not be read and you will end up in the 'no' pile. This is a dynamic document and you may need several drafts before you get to the final version. Test it on others and amend it where you feel the suggestions are relevant

Do not forget your USP - if you don't know what it is then it is unlikely that others will either

For an example CV click here
Using Personality Profiling

Such self-report questionnaires are not concerned with your abilities but how you perceive yourself in terms of your personality traits and behaviour. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions you are asked and you should always answer honestly and frankly.

Particular jobs may require a certain personality style, just as they need specific cognitive abilities. Research suggests that up to 70% of attributes associated with success at work are dimensions of personality rather than ability.

Questionnaires help candidates to:

  • Focus on aspects of personality that they had not thought about carefully before
  • Identify how their personality traits have previously been used at work to achieve specific tasks or objectives
  • Understand how their own behaviours compare to the job requirements in the organisation they are considering joining

We can administer and interpret the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) for you in preparation for your client interview.

Preparing For Interview

General Observations

  • Most interviews last between 1 and 1.5 hours. The length of time taken is less important than the discussion content and the impact the candidate makes.
  • Attitude is always important - even if you are uncertain about a role you should have a positive attitude throughout. It is easier to reject a position than to retrieve an interview after suddenly discovering that it is exactly the job you would like.
  • First impressions are very important and, as in business, you may not get a second chance. Use of voice, eyes and your overall posture go a long way in creating the right impression.
  • You should be clear and concise throughout and not 'waffle'. Make sure you answer the question asked, not one you would have liked to be asked.
  • An interviewer will judge your level of interest, your energy levels and enthusiasm. Demonstrate some animation and engage in a two-way conversation. The more 'rapport' you can build the better impression you are likely to leave.
  • Impress the interviewer with your choice of questions. Some prior research and preparation will enable you to ask some general but inquisitive ones which will demonstrate you have thought carefully about the business, the role and some of the challenges faced.
  • Last impressions are as important as first ones. Leave a positive and enthusiastic view as you leave.
  • Interviewers Main Concerns

    Can you do the job?

    •  Remember the only source of information is you and what you say. Never assume anything and make sure you prioritise those skills and experiences that are critical to the job.

    Are you better than the rest?

    • Back up every skill with achievements. Quantitative measurements can be very powerful in supporting your claims.

    Do you really want the job?

    • You must make your relevant strengths shine through and the interviewer must feel confident you are serious about your interest.

    Will you fit into our business?

    • The cultural fit is important so it is key to gain some knowledge as to what it is like. You will then be able to align some of your own values to theirs.

    Do I like you?

    •  No matter how good you are if the interviewer does not like you will not get the job. All research suggests that the selection process is most strongly influenced by personality and cultural factors. The further you progress the more attention shifts to personality traits. This does not mean your skills and experience are not important. They are. However, one without the other will hinder your chances.

    The client may explore the following specific areas:

    Your Experience
    • The focus will be on your experience that is relevant to this job, not about your life history .
    Your technical capability
    • Elaborate on your technical accounting and finance competence, particularly as it relates to this job.
    Your achievements
    • Highlight your achievements during the last three/four years - these are more powerful than what you might have achieved 10 years ago.
    • Describe the initiatives you have delivered personally - do not continually refer to 'we'. A team is a collection of 'i's' and what each person delivers.
    • Explain how you make things happen that other people might not
    Your integration into the business - if you were successful in taking a role

    • How you would approach establishing yourself in the business?

    • What would your approach be over the first three months?

    -Consider what would impress you if you were interviewing

    -Explain your approach to integration and what you would hope to achieve

    -Demonstrate how you would contribute to business success

    Your Future Career
    • What do you want from your job and career? How might this business be able to help you deliver your personal objectives?
    • Be aware of your weaknesses (be honest with yourself) and how you are currently overcoming these deficiencies.

    What not to focus on

    Sometimes individuals are feeling negative about their current/previous employer. They may not like the way a restructuring took place, how the culture is changing, new people being appointed etc. It is important that this negativity does not come over in the interview as it can often influence how the interviewer feels about you.

    Concentrate on the good things, be positive and optimistic. Leave the positive flavour not the negative connotations.

    Finally - If you are interested in the job you must show it!!