career exercises

Career In Action: The benefits of keeping an achievement and highlight diary

Although this is a great exercise to boost motivation and moral if you have decided to stay in your current job, you can do this exercise even if you adore your role, to ensure you remain happy and encouraged.

 

Each day at the end of the work day simply write down one achievement, however small, and one highlight, which could even be something like ‘I really connected and felt supported by Clive today at our work drinks’ – whatever has made your day just that little bit brighter.

 

Wishing you all a rewarding and fulfilling career,

 

x X x Jenny x X x

 

PS Stay tuned – our next hot topic is titled…

‘Strategies to Stop Procrastination Sabotaging Your Goals (and life in general)’

Career In Action: Create your ideal compensation package

Research your two roles compensation packages on offer online and write out an ambitious but realistic desired compensation package, including bonus (if applicable), pension, medical, holiday, potentially a company car and other options like flexi-time, working from home, childcare vouchers or travel loans for example.

 

Make sure you do your research properly so it doesn’t read as a wish list but rather an ambitious but within-the-realm-of-possibility package.

 

For a fun little extra you could calculate how much money you could save each month once you reach your desired salary!

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Career In Action: Create your ideal job description

This is the fun part. Look at sample job descriptions online of the careers / jobs on your shortlist to get a feel for the general format and variations within the role and then write out your ideal job description including all responsibilities and duties.

 

This will motivate and inspire you in your journey towards a rewarding work life whilst reminding you what you are aiming for.

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Career In Action: Work on your resume or research where you can study

If you don’t need to study for one or two of your choices:

 

If one or both of your two options does not require study, take today to begin overhauling your resume, focusing on your transferable skills. Invest in several interview books and read them over the coming weeks.

 

Work Pathway Resources:

 

Download “Resume-Template.doc” Resume-Template.doc – Downloaded 48 times – 82 KB

 

‘The Little Book of Career Success’ by Hilary Wilson

‘THE INTERVIEW QUESTION & ANSWER BOOK’ by James Innes

‘Ultimate Interview’ by Lynn Williams

 

If you need to study or train:

 

Take today to research local institutions that feature the courses you will need to take. Read over their application criteria and guidelines. Check out the process of enrolling and what services the facility provides such as clubs or cafes on site, etc. Read about the course you want to study. Get excited and plan your next step.

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Career In Action: Narrow your shortlisted careers down to two

Take time today to look over all of the exercises you have done throughout this series and assess which two of your shortlisted careers / jobs, are the best match for you. Whilst doing this take into account:

 

Your research on each role (both passion or finance career planning roles)
Your budgeting and finances (budgets for studying etc)
Your likes
Your dislikes
Your strengths
Your weaknesses
The work / life balance you are looking for (NB: This is a very important factor)

 

Remember whilst it is important to factor these things in there is no such thing as a perfect job or career, what you are really looking for are the two options that are the best fit for you.

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Career In Action: List your strengths

I find listing my strengths easier than listing my weaknesses but nevertheless it is still hard, as is any self evaluation because I lack genuine objectivity. This being said it is a useful exercise to do as it highlights what elements of a role you would excel at.

 

Just as when listing your weaknesses, there are three main areas. Technical (also known as skills), such as being great at Microsoft Excel (spreadsheets) or having an advanced driving license, interpersonal, such as being great at customer service or motivating a team and mental, such as having an analytical mind.

 

List them now and for each strength you identify, give an example of when you have used this strength successfully (this will help you in interviews later on).

 

Now take another look at the list and see if these strengths would be involved with any of your shortlisted career paths. If they aren’t there’s no need to fret, it simply means you have an opportunity to develop even more strengths!

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Career In Action: List your weaknesses

Listing your can be hard to do, mainly because very few of us want to admit we have any. The reason it is so important is because it will highlight areas that you need to work on to succeed in your chosen career paths or otherwise highlight which careers aren’t the right fit for you.

 

There are three main areas of weaknesses we all have. Technical (also known as skills), such as touch typing or driving a fork lift. Interpersonal, such as struggling with team work or not being good at written communication and mental, such as having poor memory or not being good at maths.

 

List your weaknesses down, and, if they are weaknesses you would like to improve, write down how you might combat these weaknesses to make them less of an issue in your professional life. For example, I have a really bad memory, hence why I take notes and keep a work diary (a diary could also be a great way to turn organization into your strength but more on strengths later). Be as brutally honest as you can manage, this will pay off tenfold later down the line.

 

Once you have your list see how your weaknesses may be involved in some of your proposed career paths and if some are assess whether that weakness is something that could be overcome (and indeed, whether you want to overcome it in the first place). Then rule out any pathways that would rely on the weaknesses that you have no desire to overcome or those you believe are outside of your capabilities.

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Career In Action: To study or not to study?

This can be a really contentious issue. Many of us would love to study full time but simply cannot afford to because of existing financial commitments. But there are options, you could work part time if you think you would still be able to fulfill your study commitments, you could save over a period of time to take time out to study full time or you could even study alongside your full time job via distance learning.

 

For others still studying would rather be avoided, which is also fine, it just might limit your career choices or impact your entry level pay. Having said that there is a lot to say for practical experience and working your way up the career ladder is both exhilarating and rewarding, marking it a huge achievement.

 

To help you decide which pathway is best for you work your way through the following three sets of questions for each career option on your shortlist:

 

Study pathway

1. How much does the course cost (excluding distance learning)?
2. How much does the distance learning course cost?
3. How long is the duration of both versions of the course?
4. What would be my monthly living expenses?
5. Do I have enough savings to afford the costs involved? (look at both classroom and distance learning options)
6. If I don’t have enough savings how many hours would I need to work at minimum wage each week to afford it? Is working for that time conducive to the amount of study I will need to do? Is there an option to study part-time where the course is stretched out for longer but I would be able to work part-time without it distracting from my studies?
7. What is the entry level pay after finishing my qualifications?
8. What is the top salary for people with these qualifications?

 

Studying alongside a full time job pathway

1. How much does the distance learning course cost?
2. How long is the duration of the course?
3. How many study hours are advised per week?
4. Would I realistically have enough time to complete the course?
5. Am I being realistic with how much time I can dedicate to my studies?
6. What is the entry level pay after finishing my qualifications?
7. What is the top salary for people with these qualifications?

 

Work pathway

1. How much is entry level pay without any qualifications? What is the difference between this and the entry level pay after doing the qualifications as I outlined in my ‘study pathway’ and my ‘studying alongside a full time job’ pathway?
2. What is the top salary for someone without any qualifications?
3. How long realistically before I work my way up the career ladder to my desired level of pay and responsibility?
4. Can I manage financially whilst I am working my way up and if not can I rely on my partner or family for financial support in the meantime?

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Career In Action: Come up with tailored interview questions

Refer to yesterdays list you made of your likes and dislikes of the people and politics within your current role. What traits or company culture did your answers reveal you were seeking?

 

Looking at yesterdays list, come up with a list of five interview questions you could ask your interviewer in relation to their company culture and then pick the best two – this will set you apart from the majority of other candidates.

 

Just a little added bonus question; always ask whether the interviewer has any reservations as to your ability to perform well in the role, as this then gives you the opportunity to address any concerns directly. It does take courage but it’s well worth doing and can make all the difference.

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Career In Action: Current role – list likes and dislikes of people and politics

Why, I hear you ask, do we need to write this list? Well two reasons really.

 

The first is that this will get you crystal clear on what company culture you are seeking – which you can ask about indirectly at interviews (such as asking ‘can you tell me of a time when the team worked really well together and was supportive throughout?’).

 

Secondly, it will reinforce why you might be seeking work elsewhere, which is always a good thing when embarking on something scary, like your next career move.

 

Now list your likes and dislikes of the people and politics where you work. Avoid singling out one individual at work and making the list strictly about him or her in favor of generalizing the company culture, for example, ‘competitive and self serving’ or ‘supportive’.

 

Try to be as constructive as possible rather than resorting to name calling, using traits as opposed to names such as ‘argumentative’ ‘not a cohesive team’ etc or even ‘collaborative’ if naming your likes.

 

Now come up with a list of five interview questions you could ask your interviewer in relation to their company culture and then pick the best two – this will set you apart from the majority of other candidates. Just a little added bonus question; always ask whether the interviewer has any reservations as to your ability to perform well in the role as this then gives you the opportunity to address any concerns directly.

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