One of the reasons I believe people choose to stay in a job despite them not enjoying it (maybe even hating it) is because of the perceived effort and stress involved with making a change. That, and the concern that they might not have the skills or competencies they need to work somewhere other than their current workplace. Rather stick with the devil they know than reach out and try to create a better situation for themselves.
Is this anyway to live, though? Being dissatisfied or miserable or even burnt out in a job you can’t stand?
A number of the people I work with are those whose job positions have become or are in the process of becoming disestablished. Whilst some people handle this relatively smoothly, for some, particularly people who have been in the same role for awhile or those who’ve been in this situation before, the shock, disbelief, sadness and anger at the uncertainty of their situation can be very hard to handle.
It’s fair to say that most of us don’t like change very much!
Whether we are choosing to make change proactively our self or we’re responding to a job change imposed on us, there are a number of ways we can make the whole process easier.
Identify and own your competency areas
We tend to take for granted or not even be that aware of the skills and areas of competency that we have because we just get on with doing our job every day. Getting clear about what we have to offer an employer and articulating this well in a CV is something that will clearly and simply show a potential employer what we can do, and whether we can do the job they have available.
The other benefit of taking the time to unearth our competencies is that it is a way for us to build up our belief in ourself and what we have to offer. I’ve noticed in many of my clients the improvement in their confidence to look for another job once they see their capability laid out in front of them in black and white. Clustering your competencies together under a number of relevant headings (about 5-6) will help add depth and breadth to your skillset.
Tune up your CV
It used to be that you’d create your CV by writing a list of the jobs you’ve had and qualifications you’ve attained.
Whilst these are still significant components of the CV, they’ve been joined by the “Key skills” or “Key competencies” section of the CV, which I suggest putting on Page 1. If the person reading your CV is trying to work out whether you’re someone they’re considering interviewing, then you need to quickly show them that you have the competencies they’re looking for, and the best way to do this is to serve them this information in easily digested chunks up front. Spell out your skill set for them and back this up with your qualifications and career history further down the CV. I always say that if the person reading your CV doesn’t like Page 1, they sure aren’t going to bother reading Page 2, particularly if there’s a large pile of applications in front of them. Key message here is to make sure Page 1 is enticing.
Having recently updated my own CV, it was interesting to put myself in the position of my clients. Because I hadn’t had one for many years, it took quite a few hours at the desk to craft it to my liking. My advice: try to keep your CV up to date, adding any new job, skill, qualification or training as you acquire it, that way your CV will be ready to go when opportunity presents itself. I also think you’ll find it easier to consider moving to greener pastures if the effort doesn’t seem as great.
Study the job description with a fine tooth comb
Although there may be enough information provided in the job ad in order to apply for a job, the smart money is on getting the job description and studying it intently. This will provide a heap of clues and detail about what they’re looking for and help you tailor your application and CV to match.
Check your CV against it to make sure that you have demonstrated that you have all that they are looking for (to the best of your ability). It’s hard to know exactly what that is and therefore what will be of direct relevance to include in your CV without the detail provided in the job description. You might need to tweak your CV a bit to make it relevant to that particular opportunity.
Get comfortable talking about what you have to offer
Most of us hate the thought of “blowing our own trumpet” or “selling our self” to get a job, and I think this is something that stands in our way of going after sunnier career opportunities.
Many is the client I’ve had the discussion with around the unhelpfulness of looking at it this way. Instead of thinking you have to puff yourself up and tell everyone how wonderful you are (not the typical kiwi way at all) it can be more helpful to think of the process as quietly owning your skillset and finding ways to tell someone else about it in a way that is aligned with you. For example, if the employer is looking for customer service skills, tell them how you do customer service. What aspects of customer service have you done in your current or previous roles? Get specific and be prepared to provide examples. Follow this approach and you’ll be matter-of-factly communicating your experience and skill rather than feeling like you’re selling yourself – an important distinction for most of us.
Keeping your skills hidden so that a recruiter or potential employer has to pull the information out of you is hindering the process and may make it all too hard for them. You want to make it easy for them to know what you bring to the table.
Next time we’ll talk about some ideas for looking for jobs and how to give yourself the best chance in a job interview.