Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas, The Long Term Job Seeker And Some New Strategies

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Christmas can be a difficult time if you have been out of work for while.  However hard you are trying to economize there is always extra cost at this time of the year.

Also encounters with relatives, friends and neighbors can be extra stressful when faced with questions about why you still don’t have a job. This is when it is great if you have some positive things to say about how you have spent your time.  For example, the new people you have met and the extra training you have undertaken.

It can be a good time to spread the word that you are open to opportunities.  Yes, it is legitimate to network a little at Christmas

Many people halt their job search for a long period over the Christmas period and, yes, you should plan a clear break and time with the family.  But this quieter time can be good for reflecting on, and refreshing, your job search material.

Although recruitment does scale down in December, it never really stops. So keep this in mind as you consider ramping up the job hunt in the new year.

This is the time when companies complete their budgets for the coming year or make last-minute adjustments to improve their year-end bottom line. They start to be much clearer about their plans for hiring in the near future. Even in this fragile market there will be companies who will be planning to recruit at a time when many job seekers have taken their eye off the ball.

You can help yourself standout by adopting some less used job search strategies, for example;

  • Add graphs or charts to your CV.
  • Send work samples with your CV
  • Create an online portfolio that is easily accessible from your LinkedIn profile – remember to include your STAR stories.
  • Contact department heads by name and not the generic human resources contact.
  • Burn your portfolio and CV on to a CD and send to potential employers.

Remember to attend any New Year events arranged by your professional and sector associations.  There is no better time to network than when people are in good spirits. Go to all those parties and gatherings where you might meet new people who could be sources of job leads. Be positive and upbeat.  Let people know you are looking and follow-up after the party.

If you do get a call for interview over the Christmas period, make sure you are available – sorry but this really isn’t the time for a long distance trip that takes you out of touch. Remember all the family stands to gain if you find that new role.

But above all have a good break and make sure you enjoy yourself.  You’ve worked very hard this year on your main task of finding work and you have learned a lot. Here’s to a New Year that is bright, light and brings you the success you deserve.

Season’s Greetings to you and your family from me and Wisewolf – http://t.co/JyVHet3M

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Corporate Panic and lessons from the Wolf Pack!

Eleven-member wolf pack in winter, Yellowstone...

I left the UK public sector five years ago.  At that time people management skills appeared to be in the decline.  I noticed this particularly in how restructuring exercises were being handled.  It was the main reason I chose to go!

I had always been very proud to be part of the UK Civil Service! Sadly that ceased when I saw how some of my colleagues were being treated. No, not because we were being downsized – it was how we were being downsized.

Well, the UK public sector has changed a lot since I left and I do not mean in terms of the colour of the government.  In terms of managing change, few lessons seem to have been learned and a good number seem to have been forgotten.

There have always been good and bad employers – bosses with more and less finesse when dealing with their employees.  My encounters with large private sector corporates, has led me to think they are not better or worse at handling people than those in the public sector.  Good practice in small and medium-sized bodies varies widely in both sectors.

Recently I have heard some very strange and rather sad tales from those in both the public and private sectors. I have heard about organizations going through their third and fourth restructuring in a few months.

On top of that, I am being told of people who have had to reapply for their own roles three and four times in those exercises. As you will understand the effect on staff morale is devastating.

Running large corporate change programmes – even when well handled – costs a lot of money.

Right now, not only is there a lot of change but it is very clear that it is not being handled well.

As one former colleague with vast experience of managing public sector change successfully said to me;

“They try to manage a restructure themselves and can’t. So then they bring in one of the large consultancy firms to help and they just seem to make it worse. They are being told to finish the change quickly, so they don’t try to find out what we do really but they get well paid.”

What is going wrong?  Well yes, I do know about the economy and the need to make “cuts”.  And yes I do know we live in a world of constant change.

But there seems to be a kind of corporate panic/frenzy around and that is the worst way to respond.  Now more than ever we need real leadership and we need leadership confident enough to be serene when all about are running round like headless chickens.

Think about a wolf pack!  Wolves have to flex and change all the time as they hunt.  The constants are that they are quite clear why they are there, the strengths and weaknesses they possess and their roles. The leader sniffs the wind and off they go in very good order.

The weather may change about them and the quarry may lead them into new and difficult terrain.  But because they are well led, have a strong commitment to the pack and are clear about their roles they succeed often enough to thrive even in the most challenging times.


Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Tycoonwoman takes on the Abyss of Self Doubt

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Ola Agbaimoni (Tycoonwoman) left the public sector a year ago after 25 years in local government.  She took the plunge, left and set up her own company, Leaders to Follow Ltd. She works with work with ambitious, heart centered

 women in their late 30s to mid 50s who are committed achieving their true potential. 

But like most people starting a new business she had some difficult times on the way. Below is something she wrote a few months ago – before she moved on to success.  It is a very good example of what the bad times can feel like. But if you want to succeed in business you just have to pick yourself up like Ola did, arm yourself with self belief and move forward.

“I’m still busy going to network meetings and talking to people, although perhaps not as many as my conversion projections would suggest.  In sales’ speak that means how many people you have to speak to before you convert one into some one prepared to pay you, well in this case me. I won’t scare you with the numbers and to be honest you only have to do it that way until you get people prepared to recommend you, nothing sells you better than personal recommendation. This is me looking on the bright side. However, I often find myself starring into the Abyss Of Self Doubt.

The Abyss of Self Doubt

I have no clients. Not a single one. No one is paying me for my services.  I have very clearly defined services and a fantastic elevator pitch to describe them. However, as yet they remain in my head because I have no leaflets and even though I have a web page it says UNDER CONSTRUCTION –a lot of help that is to potential clients!. It’s all going round and round in circles. I don’t want to produce my publicity without sorting out my branding and without publicity I won’t get any clients,  so I won’t earn any money and I won’t be able to pay someone to do my branding and without branding I can’t do my publicity …I think you get the drift.

I can’t get to grips with why I don’t seem able to move forward. What is really going on for me? I did think it was because I’m not used to doing my own administration, but clearly that is just an excuse. Something else is prevented me from moving forward with my business and making money.  I am not making any money at present (waling voice). Indeed I am not even spending money. So imagine my surprise when the HMRC sent me a VAT  bill. Yes a VAT bill!  When I already told them that I was not trading! When I already called and asked them if I needed to submit a VAT return for August as I was about to leave the country, AND as they had sent the notice so late, there was no time to respond before I left.

They said ‘no you don’t need to send in a VAT return. Your application missed the deadline and our system doesn’t show that one is due. We will send you a bill for the next quarter’.

I said ‘Are you sure? I don’t want you to write to me telling me that I should have sent you a return. Can you please put that on my records, so that if somebody else sees it they will know that you told me this?’

‘Yes’ said the very helpful (but as I discovered later) very ill informed person on the phone.

Clearly it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that it all ended in tears. With me having to quickly put in a VAT return, which basically said I have spent money on an IPad and have not made a single penny because I DON’T HAVE ANY CLIENTS!.  I DON’T HAVE ANY CLIENTS!.

I am finding it so hard to find clients. I’ve done the ‘Painless Selling’ training. According to this – there are opportunities to find clients everywhere! All you have to do is start a conversation with a complete stranger! Show them their pain and behold you have a client! Yeh right!!!.

In the first place I really don’t want every single conversation I have to be a sales pitch.  Definitely incongruence there – how can I be putting forward the philosophy that you have to be open and honest with people and come from a place of integrity, if I only ever talk to people because I’m trying to sell them something?

Anyway I have a deep aversion to sales people. As soon as I detect the sales pitch my guard goes up and I become completely defensive, horrible and nine times out of ten rude! The only thing I can think if is ‘GO AWAY!’ So if this is going to work for me (and I really want it to) I have to find another way.

I thought of talking to everyone I meet regardless of their client potential.  Every conversation would just be a conversation. A sharing formation rather than a sales pitch. But how much time do I have to do that? I worked out that I would have to speak to over 1200 people per month to get 20 clients wow. (Oops Just gave you the scary figures!) Clearly that isn’t doable! When would I have time to coach them?!.

Ok enough of the Abyss of self doubt. It really isn’t as bad as all that. I’m getting stuck into my networking via 4Networking  -‘ … the first joined-up national Networking organisation to let you decide where you go to meet like-minded business people, how often you go and how you can generate results for your business. They guaranteed 3 ten minute meetings at every event – up to 4 times a week – in nearly 200 linked breakfast groups’

I volunteered to be the group’s marketing assistant because you get your membership for half price and you can call any business you like and invite them to breakfast and then set up a meeting with them before anyone else can – what power. Takes the sting out of cold calling and I’ve already managed to find a business to trade coaching time for design skills.

So I shall leave on an optimistic note. The most powerful business tool I’ve discovered to date is self belief. With it you can get through the Abyss of self doubt and come out the other side more determined to succeed. Without it … I guess you just die in there! “

Tycoonwoman

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Leadership and the abuse of power

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I found an article on the Psychology Today blog explaining why and how power corrupts leaders .

It explains that a leader can use his or her power to help others, but, of course the leader can also gain personally.  The obvious problem is that when self-interest rules, the leader gains but often at the followers’ expense.

The dangerous thing is that leaders can begin to delude themselves.  They start to believe that the rules that govern what is right and what is wrong do not apply to them because they have the best interests of their followers at heart.

Leaders can become “intoxicated” by power – doing something unethical or taking an unreasonable risk – just because they can!  They can become addicted to the adrenaline rush and followers can begin to collude – it is OK “He’s the boss!”

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen several times in large organizations and not always at top-level.

Sometimes it is someone in an unchallengeable leadership position in a particular division.  They are getting results so those further up the line choose not to ask questions.  Sometimes, it is someone with particular intellectual capital (the subject matter expert) or a scarce talent.  Again it can be easier for “management” to look the other way.

It does not happen just in large organizations.  Abuse of power can happen anywhere! Eventually, the organization suffers eventually either in terms of legal challenge or financial loss from poor decision-making.  The reputational loss can be considerable!

It happens less in organizations with resilient governance arrangements and in those bodies whose top leaders set an example of ethical and compassionate leadership.

But I fear that the present economic circumstances, a climate may be created in which the abuse of power is more not less likely to take place.

On the positive side, of course, power makes leaders more assertive and confident.  They feel more certain of their decisions. This enables them to move forward towards their vision.

At the end of the day leaders and manager must be given the power to “get the job done.” But I’d welcome your views on how best to keep this to a healthy balance!

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Leader, know your friend or foe!

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As a leader things you do have an impact!

As a leader, the things you do and the choices you make have an impact on those about you.

The more people you affect, the more likely it is that your actions will impact on people who have power and influence over your ability to deliver your vision.

These people could be strong supporters of your work – or they could obstruct it.

Identify key people

You need to make sure that you can find the key people who support you already and those who still need to be won over. Then you can;

  • Use the opinions of your most powerful supporters to shape your plans at an early stage. Not only does this make it more likely that they will support you, but, their input can improve the quality of your approach.
  • Use strong support to help you to win more resources – this makes success more likely
  • By communicating make sure your supporters fully understand what you are doing and the benefits it will bring.  They can then act as your ambassadors.
  • Anticipate what people’s reaction to you may be, and build into your plan the actions that will win people’s support.

The first step is to brainstorm who supports you and who does not.

Think through all the people who are affected by your work.  Who has influence or power over it?  Who has an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion?

And now the analysis

You may now have a long list of people and organizations that are affected by your work.

Some may have the power either to block or advance. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care.

You need to map your list on to grid like the one below.

Someone’s position on the grid shows you the actions you have to take to ensure your success:

  • High influence, interested people: these are the people you must make time and effort to engage with and try to satisfy.
  • High influence, less interested people: for these people you need to try to keep them satisfied.  But don’t over-communicate or they may begin to see you as a nuisance
  • Low influence, interested people: keep these people adequately informed, and talk to them to ensure there are no major issues.  They could be useful on the details and in spreading the message
  • Low influence, less interested people: again, monitor but do not bore them with excessive communication.

Now it is time for you to get to work!

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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12 Tips for a Confident Interview







So many people I know and work with are going for job interviews.  I thought it would be useful to record some tips for approaching them with confidence.  


There lots of interview tips around but I think these are some of the best!

1.            Know the organization. Do your home work – find out as much as you can about the role, the organization, its needs and its challenges.  Find out what is going on in their sector.  How can your experience and knowledge give them an advantage? Look at their website and see what people are saying about them on the internet.  Research the company at your local library. If they are in the private sector who are their competitors?  Who are their customers? Go to the interview armed with knowledge of the organization you hope to join.

2.            Know what you bring! Review your skills and knowledge and be ready with examples of how you have used them.  What kind of person are you?  How will you bring value?

3.            Know your CV/resume. Review your past achievements and be ready to describe them in answer to questions.  Prepare and remember examples of your achievements.  Practice describing them.

4.            Know one of the first questions. You can almost bet on being asked: “Tell me about yourself”.  So have your “elevator pitch” ready. This is a short paragraph or two that describes who you are and what you can contribute.  Give it punch – make it interesting, informative, and memorable.  Practice delivering it at home with confidence and don’t rush. Approach it from the employer’s point of view. Ask yourself, “If I were hiring someone for this position, what would I want to know?”

5.            Be ready for follow up questions. Be ready for some tough questions about you experience and abilities. Think through what they might ask and then prepare positive responses.

6.            Prepare questions of your own. Employers expect you to be interested in them and to ask some questions about the organization.  Prepare some intelligent questions about the position, the company and the industry. Ask about the issues they are dealing with!  

7.            Visualize!  Imagine the entire interview, from start to finish. See yourself as performing with style and confidence. How will the interview end? Will you get a job offer or be called back for a second interview? How much salary do you want? What kind of benefits? Use your research and practice, practice, practice.  See yourself successful!

8.            Be punctual - arrive at least few minutes early. Allow extra time for traffic, parking and slow elevators. Then take a few moments out in the bathroom to check your appearance and to take some deep breaths.

9.            Dress for success and appropriate for the position you’re seeking and the organization.  Find out about dress code when you do your research.  Be clean and tidy with well ironed clothes and well polished shoes.

10.         Body Language and handshake. Stand straight! Move confidently and have a firm handshake. It does wonders for your confidence and theirs – again practice, practice, and practice! Make eye contact when you shake. Sit slightly forward in your chair and show you are enthusiastic and interested.  But don’t gush and remember to smile.

11.         Communication and listening skills. Listen carefully!  Ask questions if there is anything you do not understand and to show interest. Communicate clearly and stay positive. Never, never make negative statements about earlier jobs or employers-be diplomatic!  

12.         Write back! Send a thank-you note to the company recruiter after the interview.  Ask for feedback if you are unsuccessful – remember to ask them to keep you in mind for future openings.
  

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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