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career shift

Career Shift: Take a Chance on Me

That old adage of risk and reward seems as relevant today as ever. The company I worked with for eleven years went bust as a result of the economic crash in 2008. As an employee for my whole working life, the idea of going solo felt scary. Would my inner entrepreneur magically appear (did I even have one)? Or would the uncertainty of no longer relying on the monthly pay cheque be too stressful? Eight years on and the chance I took on myself has been rewarding in all senses. It has also relied on others taking a chance on me. What makes chance a fine thing in a career shift?

These are common fears when contemplating a career or job change. Sometimes you have to leap and learn as you go along, as well as learning before leaping. Much depends on your preferred style. The degree of risk is another factor – what are the known and unknown consequences of failing or succeeding? Nothing gained, nothing ventured, and tales of the unexpected.

6 career shift insights

Here are some thoughts based on my personal and professional career shift:

  • Doing something creates momentum and opens doors. Don’t wait for something to happen.
  • Iteration follows failing fast. Redefine, reframe and reboot.
  • Professional identity is dynamic. Reinvent and be relevant. Pivot if necessary.
  • Your purpose is the rocket fuel driving strategy and tactics. Clarity, focus, and energy.
  • Your story is an evergreen and evolving asset. Use it to light fires and build relationships.
  • Success relates to personal values. Examine what it means for you. You might be surprised.

Making a decision to career shift is the starting point, whether you jump or get pushed. Take a chance on yourself so that others want to take a chance on you. The chances are you won’t regret it.

What insights here resonate with you?


How to Create Good Career Vibrations

A butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world setting off a ripple of incremental changes that result in a tornado in another part of the world. That’s the basis of Chaos Theory. A plane heads to a different country when a pilot alters his flight path by one degree. In both cases, small changes lead to big impacts. What if you make small, incremental changes in your job or career direction? What ripples and good career vibrations will you create?

vibrationsYou leave an imprint throughout your life on other people, and vice versa. Sometimes faint and slight, at other times clear and strong. You are subtly altered or touched in some way each time you cross paths with someone through the uncharted waters of your life. An imprint is authentic and lasting. However, it is not the same as an impression, which can be false and short-lived.

In the context of your jobs and careers, think of the myriad number of people you meet and get to know, however fleetingly. Some you forget instantly, others create good and bad memories and a few remain constants, acquaintances and lifelong friends.

Good Vibrations

You have an opportunity to shape impressions from the outset AND leave a lasting imprint on people you meet which reflects some of that complex, talented and unique you.  So, have a clear view of yourself and manage yourself well.

Think about the key people in your life, the imprint they leave on you and vice versa. How has that shaped the way you tend to feel, think, act or behave? What imprint do you want to leave that makes you stand out from the crowd?

All it takes is one small step or a flap of your metaphorical wings. Choose a direction, choose an action, and feel the good vibrations.


Learning How to Learn: The Degree v The Job

Did you get taught how to learn at school? Or, was it a complete mystery that you were supposed to just get as you went along? I bet many of you spent most of your time being spoon-fed knowledge by teachers in a classroom. Yet, learning today is a whole lot more and probably the most important capability you will need for success after leaving full-time education. Not only is learning critical, unlearning and relearning matter just as much – because the world doesn’t stand still.

“Work is learning, learning is the work” – Harold Jarche

Employers want people with the ability to learn how to learn. For example, Google hires people for their “learnability.” It is not the same as studying for a degree at university. Let’s look at some of the differences.

Degree v Job


Personal Learning Network


Studying for a Degree

Learning at work

Emphasis is on learning from theory to inform practice Emphasis is on learning from experience in real-time
Dedicated time and space to reflect Reflecting while working
Slower-paced Faster-paced
Separate structured activities – lectures, seminars, exams Work is learning, learning is the work. More informal than formal
Certainty and predictability because your degree course is laid out for you over a 3 or 4-year period. You have a known curriculum. Less certainty, more unpredictable because of deliberate change and unforeseen events. There isn’t a curriculum.
Re-work opportunities. Redo that assignment or retake that exam. Less re-work opportunities, more ‘get it right first time’
Me, myself, I. Consequences of not learning effectively are personal rather than collective. Us, ourselves, we. Consequences are professional as well as personal. Often more immediate because it impacts on other people like customers or service users or colleagues. Financial consequences like loss of business and relationship problems with work colleagues. People can lose their jobs, with serious consequences for those supporting families.

The Workplace Learning Mindset

If none of us can see the future clearly, we need to get better at being comfortable with uncertainty. That means letting go of old thinking, beliefs, attitudes and skills that don’t serve your ability to grow. It means a learning mindset in the workplace that requires you to:

  • Question accepted wisdom more – solving problems and improving performance
  • Listen and observe what is happening around you more – interacting with content and people
  • Be more active than passive in the face of change – finding things out.

 “…resisting the bias against doing new things, scanning the horizon for growth opportunities, pushing yourself to acquire radically different capabilities – while still performing your job, a willingness to experiment and become a novice again and again.” Erika Anderson

Research has identified four attributes of this kind of learner:

  • Aspiration – you truly want to improve and master new skills, keep up to date in your industry or profession
  • Self-awareness – you see yourself very clearly
  • Curiosity – you constantly think of and ask good questions
  • Vulnerability – you tolerate your mistakes as you grow.

Learn for Nourishment

Learning how to learn in today’s workplace is about

  • your personal habits of continuous renewal, refreshment, and improvement as an integral part of doing your job;
  • tapping into the world around you both online and offline through professional networks;
  • learning as you go along through exploring, experimenting and sharing with others.

Every student takes on two titles when they pass their degree – Graduate and Alumnus. Alumnus comes from the Latin to nourish. Ensure you have a balanced diet for a healthier future by embracing lifelong intellectual, emotional and professional nourishment. Then you can add Modern Workplace Learner to your titles.

How do you need to learn differently to be effective in the workplace? 

job sites

How to Research Job Sites in the Job Hunt

Job sites come in many flavours, shapes, and sizes. They changed the game for job seekers and recruiters when the technology first emerged to enable high volume job listings. Instant search and display. Too much of a good thing brings inevitable downsides. There will always be black holes in the universe. Job seekers now peer into the glass darkly looking for the volume control and wondering where their ‘dream job’ is. However, the vastness of the information on job sites provides a hidden source of value to job seekers other than specific vacancies. How can you research them to help with your job hunt?

Not all job sites are the same

Some job sites are dumping grounds for the bland, the vague and click bait. The good ones save time and personalise. They inform and empower job seekers. I’ve argued before that you have a better chance of landing the job you really want through networking and tapping into the unadvertised job market. Why? Using job boards can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s hard to stand out. You are at the mercy of the robots scanning for a match. However, you become a magnet instead of a needle when you attract employers towards you through targeted promotion of your personal brand. The real you is much more visible.

Research from shows the different nature and quality of job sites that have multiple purposes. For example:

  • LinkedIn has job posts, provides a vehicle for your personal brand, facilitates conversations through online groups, and is a blogging platform. The research puts it top for networking to help gain introductions, the first step to getting an internal referral. Also, it’s where the majority of recruiters find their best candidates.
  • Glassdoor provides company trends by industry, location and job title and anonymous employee feedback on their employers, as well as job vacancies. The research rates Glassdoor the top job site as it has the freshest daily posts and detailed company profiles so you can see if you’re a fit. It even has charts to see how reviewers rate companies over time.
  • Indeed is the most comprehensive aggregator of vacancies – “the Google of job sites” according to

Researching job sites

What really gets you the job is all the metadata these sites provide…it’s more about the context and tools they give.

Online job search expert, Susan P Joyce, suggests that you read between the lines, so you can identify the employers you want to target and focus your information-gathering efforts. Job sites are rich with useful insights if you look at what the vacancies suggest. For example:

  • Company profiles
  • What companies are hiring, when and locations
  • Job roles within specific industries or sectors, including new job types and fastest growing jobs
  • Salary levels by job type and industry
  • Skills, mindsets, and attributes employers seek
  • Keywords to use in your job applications and online profiles
  • Who you know who already works there (and Alumni from your university through LinkedIn)
  • Clues to the company culture, including best places to work award winners and highest rated CEOs
  • Business priorities: What problems do the vacancies suggest need addressing? What issues are not being articulated where you have something to offer?

Landing the job you want involves multiple job search methods. Researching employers is an essential part of your job strategy if you want to make the leaps from an applicant to a candidate to being hired. Make smart interrogation of job sites part of your research plan, so you spend your time wisely and productively.


What Type of Accountant Do You Want To Be?

One of the most common questions that accounting graduates ask is: what type of accountant should I be?

Yet, the answer to this simple question is not so straightforward. It is crucial to understand the different types of accountancy and their specific features to choose the type of accountant that goes well with who you are. The guide below has 5 different types and career paths within accountancy to choose as a new graduate. Let’s roll.

  1. Practice Accountant

This is the most common and the broadest field. As a Practice Accountant, you work as a bookkeeper, auditor, consultant, and anything that is required by clients. Practice Accountants deal with different projects and work closely with businesses. One month you could be working as an auditor with one business and the next you will be working as a tax advisor for another business in a different niche.

If you love doing the same kind of job over and over again for the rest of your life, be a Public Accountant. If you like any (or all) of the following, being a Practice Accountant is a good choice for you:

  • Change and diversity.
  • Doing different things and tasks.
  • Getting paid well for all the hard work you do.
  • Love to socialise and meet new people.
  • Love travelling and visiting new places.
  • Don’t mind sitting late in your office sometimes.
  • Hard work doesn’t bother you.
  • Like unpredictability.
  • Passionate about your career.
  • And importantly, you get on with people.
  1. Corporate Accountant

A Corporate Accountant works with a single company and is responsible for managing the company’s accounts. The role often goes by the name of Internal Auditor.  As a Corporate Accountant, you deal with financial statements, business activities, risk management, fraud detection, and all types of internal auditing. You will not just deal with the accounts, but you will also provide higher management with financial analysis for the business.

Corporate accountancy is best for you if you:

  • Love to master one thing.
  • Hate unpredictability.
  • Like to follow a routine and stick to the plan.
  • Love working with the same company and same people.
  • Don’t like socialising so much or meeting new people.
  • Love a secure job.
  • Do not like traveling much.
  • Love having dinner with your family every single day.
  1. Cost Accountant

Cost Accountants are also known as Management Accountants or Managerial Accountants. These are the people who are linked more closely with higher management. Their primary job is to manage cost. Cost Accountants also develop budgets, manage inventory, and counsel on increasing the company’s efficiency.Accountant

Cost Accountants differ from Internal Auditors in several ways. The former deal specifically with cost and budgeting, and are involved in decision-making. In contrast, Internal Auditors handle all the company’s finances and are not normally involved in management and/or decision-making.

Becoming a Cost Accountant requires further training. Therefore, throughout your career, you need to continue to train and equip yourself with the latest information in accountancy and cost management.

A Cost Accountant is the best career if you:

  • Love dealing with costs and budgeting.
  • Like to be an expert at one thing.
  • Like to work with a large company (often in manufacturing).
  • Love job security.
  • Enjoy continual study.
  • Like data analysis and reporting.
  • Love working with businesses where you can contribute something noteworthy and improves efficiency.
  1. Government Accountant

Would you love being part of the Civil Service? If so, become a Government Accountant  or Local Government Accountant. You can become a Capital Accountant, a Financial Analyst or even work for Customs and Excise to specialise in tax. As a Government employee, you will also evaluate Government institutes and private businesses to ensure compliance.

Government accountancy jobs are perfect for those who:

  • Love working in public service.
  • Like a safe and secure job.
  • Are not as motivated by money.
  • Love a predictable job and life.
  • Do not mind progressing slowly in their career.
  1. Sole proprietor

If you prefer independence, you can start your own business such as a consultancy firm or a business advisor. As a business owner, you need to choose a specific niche that you plan to serve and gain relevant experience at the same time. It is the best career if you:

  • Have the resources and experience to start a new business.
  • Love freedom and flexibility.
  • Like being your own boss.
  • Love working with new people and on new projects.

What is best for you?

AccountantYou are the only one who can decide which career is right for you. Choose the option based on your interests, strengths, likes, and dislikes. Do what you love to do and become very good at it.

All the types of accountancy discussed above offer a different career and life. Explore what type of life you want and expect, and then choose a career that offers it.

Thanks for this post go to our friend Leslie Gilmour of accountancy firm Gilmour & Co.  Initially, he trained as an accountant, and then found his passion lay in marketing and accountancy software.


Why Being Organised Makes You More Employable

It’s the start of a new year and job seekers, job changers and career shifters are getting twitchy. Getting organised for the job search can be a nightmare for some. The irony is that being organised doing the job is often an employer requirement. What does being organised look like? What do employers expect? What does it mean for navigating your career?

The organised person

Employable people are self-aware and aware of how others like to operate. They can describe how they organise themselves and communicate it to people. To do so, they find techniques and approaches that work for them, play to their strengths and know who to rely on and when. Here are some common characteristics and behaviours of an organised person:

  • Self-motivated – taking the initiative to get organised.
  • Focused – able to stay on track and manage distractions (online and offline).
  • Resourceful – using limited resources creatively, saving yourself time, finding things easily and avoiding reinventing the wheel each time.
  • Reliable – dependable, open, easy to do business with.
  • Able to prioritise – delegating, sharing and asking for support when needed.
  • Able to juggle – managing several tasks at once.
  • Flexible and able to plan – so you can reorganise when things change.

Employer expectations

In your job role, employers expect you to:

  • Be productive in a way that delivers what colleagues, partners, and customers expect.
  • Have personal and professional standards such as punctuality and respect for others in meeting deadlines.
  • Know where and when you have got to be and make it happen – electronic diaries, productivity apps.
  • Let people know where to find or contact you on any given day – your accessibility, voicemails, email responders.
  • Communicate what you are doing and where people can find things – information sharing and access.
  • Be aware of your time stealers, know what works for you in addressing them and get the balance right.
  • Have the resilience to handle lots of tasks, prioritise them effectively and manage your workload.
  • Be a self-organising learner.

Navigating your career

Complying with employers’ recruitment processes is important, although they can at times be hugely time-consuming, irritating and cumbersome. Planning your job application and interviews requires necessary discipline and attention to detail. So, don’t rule yourself out before you get a chance to rule yourself in. That doesn’t mean acting like a robot. Even mavericks benefit from discipline. An organised and disciplined mindset also matters as you navigate your career:

  • Do periodic self-audits on your current capabilities, ambitions, and career direction.
  • Keep on top of your career profile and your personal brand.
  • Maintain and build your networks in line with your goals.

Being organised is a set of life skills. Learn how you and other people like to operate for good relationships and being productive. You only have 24 hours in a day, so be selective. We live in a short-attention, distracted world full of competing priorities. Employers expect you to be organised in the way you apply for jobs and in the way you fulfil your job role. Your lifelong learning challenge is getting things done at work and play in healthy, efficient and rewarding ways.

Currently, how do you measure up to what employers expect of an organised person? 

CV challenge

CV Challenge: How to Embrace the Robots

Employers are using the power of AI to hire employees with consequences for recruiters and job seekers alike. Job roles are already disappearing as the robots take over and business functions seek to modernize. Filtering CVs and undertaking initial job interviews are being automated where there are high applicant volumes. So, new ways of working mean new ways of learning to embrace the challenge. Here are some recent survey data and tips for dealing with the CV challenge.

We all make mistakes and I bet you’ve heard the phrase ‘well, I’m only human’ a few times! We all have our conscious and unconscious biases too. Automation removes some of these pitfalls in parts of the hiring process and cuts costs. At some point, your CV is likely to be at the mercy of an algorithm.

What are the robots looking for on your CV? Keywords are still important, however, the growth of Big Data allows greater sophistication in searches. We are all putting more information about ourselves online. Consequently, the robots can join up the dots and spot the patterns. For example, whether your LinkedIn profile and your CV are in sync.

…you might miss the perfect candidate who happens to have the right skills but a different job title and maybe a less traditional career path. AI uses data clustering techniques to create job clusters so you can identify these alternative skills and titles. Jerry Thurber, Innotrieve

CV challenge

According to a totaljobs survey, conducted across 400 UK jobseekers, 67% are unaware of automated recruitment.

  • Of those who are, 53% had taken part in an automated telephone interview.
  • Of these, 47% are comfortable with the experience (35% are uncomfortable, while 18% are neither).
  • 42% were invited to proceed to the next step, while 58% were not.

Here are 5 tips from journalist, Pádraig Belton, to help you take on the robots and meet the CV challenge:

  1. Opt for a conservative sans serif font, like Verdana, Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Fonts with serifs, like Times New Roman, work slightly less well with optical character recognition (OCR)
  2. Do not format your CV with tables.
  3. Optimize your CV, ensuring it features keywords relating to the job.
  4. Have a look at the company you are applying for and match your top titles with theirs.
  5. If later on, you find yourself recording a video interview, pick a blank background, and spend a bit of time thinking about lighting. Two light sources in front, one behind works well.

Here’s another great resource from Uptowork on Word v PDF CV formats, so your format is appropriate to pass through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.

The message is clear: if you’re a graduate looking to take the next step in your career, the robots are here to stay. Embrace the change by being savvy and consistent.


The Discipline Mindset: How to Make Things Happen

Clarifying and articulating your job or career objective enable you to shape personal strategies to achieve it. Yet, tactics without an objective and strategies risk becoming scattergun activities in the hope of finding what you want (for example, a reliance on using job boards). Also, strategy and tactics are meaningless if the drive and discipline are absent to make them happen. So, what will help you stay on track and deliver your aspirations in 2017?

At the outset, many of my coaching clients struggle with being clear about their objective – where they want to go or how they want to be. Exploring to identify their objective is the objective for some. What people say they want – like a new job or a career change – often masks a more heartfelt objective like a sense of purpose or mastery or autonomy. Just knowing your objective is not enough, you also have to make it happen and that requires discipline.

disciplineMany budding entrepreneurs fail when their drive focuses too much in the wrong areas. For example, over-focusing ‘in’ the business and under-focusing ‘on’ the business. They don’t pay enough attention to clarity, discipline, and accountability to make things happen smartly and effectively. Here’s a new resource, the Check-In Strategy Journal, that will help you to stay on track and deliver.

Also, many successful people have clear links between their strategies and their values and aspirations. Your personal values are the most powerful drivers of what you want to achieve. Identify, understand and use them as rocket fuel to drive your actions, maintain momentum and increase your chances of success.

An exercise in discipline

At the start of every year, I pick my three words for the coming year to give me energy and discipline. They feed a sense of purpose, are easy to remember and yet have depth. They are strategic to help me reach my overriding objective.

For 2016, my three words were Pivot, Learn, and Dare. Each had a particular meaning for me and no-one else. In practice, I started developing an online course, getting my head around online marketing, and broadening my coaching work into new areas. 2017? JDI, Iterate, and Joy!

What are your 3 words for the coming year to drive your energy and discipline?

Mindset matters

Initially, where do you tend to focus your mind? A past, present or future focus affects how you deliver on your goals.

  • Past-focused: enjoying the cathartic experience of reflecting on the year’s highs, lows, and personal learning journeys to derive insights.
  • Present-focused: switching off from reflecting and planning, simply being or immersing yourself in doing.
  • Future-focused: setting broad, motivational goals and personal intentions or detailed plans.

The balance between the three mindsets at any given time is personal to each of us, our preferences and cultural context. Check out your time perspective with this free online inventory.

Where does the balance lie for you? How would it help you succeed in 2017 if you alter the balance?

yeuk young professional

Jack Jennings is Hampshire’s First YEUK Young Professional

A good news story (and not just for Christmas). Twenty-year-old Jack Jennings, Operations Assistant at The Display Centre, is Hampshire’s first Youth Employment UK Young Professional. Following Jack’s passing of the YEUK Young Professional online test, Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP and Secretary at The Department for Education, met Jack to talk about his involvement with the scheme.

I was delighted to visit The Display Centre on Friday and meet Jack Jennings, one of my constituents, to personally congratulate him on his achievement. It was also very useful to meet with company director, Chris Jones, a great supporter of YEUK, to discuss with him how I might help to develop this very worthy scheme.

yeuk young professionalChris encouraged Jack to get involved in the scheme following a pledge to Youth Employment UK. YEUK is the leading social enterprise dedicated to tackling youth unemployment in the UK. It aims to help young people develop themselves by giving them the means to take control of their own development, as well as providing a platform for their voice on youth employment issues locally and nationally.

The Display Centre’s pledges

On behalf of The Display Centre, a shopfitting and retail supply company, Chris pledged to support young professionals by:

  1. Guaranteeing any YEUK Young Professional who applies for a job an automatic telephone interview.
  2. Encouraging employees under the age of 21 to become YEUK Young Professionals.
  3. Offering any YEUK Young Professional 30 minutes of career mentoring for CV reviews, interview tips or another career subject.

YEUK is a great organisation. There are so many young people, like myself, that don’t have an edge over the competition when finding a job. YEUK helps you put something on your CV that employers will find interesting, as well as teaching you the basic skills that you need in a workplace. Jack Jennings

Young people between 16 and 24 can sign up online for free and begin the young professional programme. They gain access to more resources on the Young Professional hub when they score 80%+ on the online test. These resources include TED talks and exercises that focus on employability skills.

Will your company invest in young people to boost their employability by joining Youth Employment UK? Will you support the YEUK Young Professional scheme? Why not make it a pledge for the New Year!

teaching application

Christmas Checklist: How to Perfect Your Teaching Application

Are you studying to be a teacher? The Christmas holidays are upon us and they are certainly a welcome break from the first term whichever year of study you may be in. It’s a spell to relax, regroup and enjoy some thoroughly deserved ‘me’ time. However, the holidays also give you a moment to plan, prep and organise your next steps. Perfect your teaching application over this period providing by allowing yourself some uninterrupted sessions to focus on a stand out piece of work.

Here are a few pointers to consider when tackling your teaching application:

Manage yourself

Christmas can be a chaotic and manic period, whether you’re rushing to buy last minute presents or have cleared your whole diary to complete your application. Managing yourself is key. Online psychometric testing requires time, as you practice and familiarize yourself with the process you might face in the months to come. You can reduce your anxiety, and increase knowledge and understanding of what to expectteaching application, by completing a few practice runs.

Furthermore, some recruiters close their teaching application window early if they are overwhelmed with applicants. Using the holiday period for quality time on your application instead of a late rush the night before the deadline. Rushing your application can result in mistakes and does not allow for any reasonable adjustments to be made. Use the ‘little and often’ method to complete your application to help you manage yourself effectively.

Do your research

It is entirely your responsibility to ensure that your teaching application stands out amongst the rest. Many schools that you apply for may not want to see your CV. Instead, they want to see a well-researched, specific and tailored application. Researching and visiting a school of interest is important as you may not be right for them. More importantly, they may not be right for you.

Exploring the school website, checking the Ofsted report and understanding the achievement tables ensure a rounded understanding of the school. Reading the application pack is crucial. Make sure your application displays enough evidence of your competencies to match the school’s essential and desirable requirements. This can differentiate you from a competing candidate.

Additionally, be selective when applying for positions. You don’t want to apply for a job that you won’t enjoy, just because it is available. Do your homework. How far is it to commute? Will you be able to afford the travel costs? Is the position exactly right for you?

Let your experience shine

References are essential for teaching applications. At this point, you will have completed work placements at one or two schools that offer their own variety of experiences, challenges, and successes. Draw upon them and prepare your referees for potential requests.

teaching applicationThis part of the application is your chance to shine where you can really emphasise why you think you will be right for the school. How will you contribute to their workforce? What will you add? What can you offer to the school that they cannot receive from the next candidate? Drawing upon real experiences, real problems, and real school-based solutions help construct a strong application. Influence the reader of your application by stressing your proven skills and training experience within your placement(s). It also prepares you for potential interview questions.

Being an ‘enlarged’ version of yourself both on paper and during the interview process is a very useful tool. Consequently, you strengthen your application by using your experience and gaining confidence from your encounters inside and outside of the classroom.

Get the balance right

In summary, your priority is to find a balance between working on your application and recharging your batteries over the Christmas period. Understanding what is expected from an application and managing those expectations stage by stage helps with the planning process. However, preparation is key. Researching the school, the job role, and the application process itself needs to be done up front for a successful submission.

Good knowledge of the recruitment timetable is essential to grab the opportunity that suits you best. Not only do you have to ensure your application, how to apply and when are also critical. School vacancies, registration schemes, pool applicants, agencies and speculative applicants will all have their own timetable of expected applications. Finally, researching which process suits you best and how they manage their applicants will allow you to plan and prepare to meet a solid deadline.

Thanks to Holly Barry from Distinctly PR for this week’s post!