Managing your brand through the interview process

I have been helping a client to recruit a new team member over the last week and it’s reinforced how important it is to manage your brand the whole way through the recruitment process. One of the leading candidates came very close to us rethinking our decision by not thinking through an email in the closing stages of the process.

We had completed the interview and were keen to let them know they would be going through to testing and reference checking. We had sent an email asking they contact us. They could then talk more openly as I am always conscious in open plan work environments it’s not that easy to taking personal calls, let alone one about a potential new job! Within a short time I had a reply to my email that stopped me in my tracks. The email started out telling me if they hadn’t got through to the next phase of the process I was to advise them by email. If it was good news they of course where happy to speak with me.

I expect it was not the intention of the candidate but it certainly gave me the impression they were not resilient to bad news. Not a good sign for a role that required resilence and was client facing. There was the flash of “are we making the right decision” racing through my mind. I decided to reply with a simple “you will want to call me”!

When we spoke about an hour later I pointed out to the job candidate that their email didn’t do their personal brand any favours. Although initially a little surprised the person agreed with me it wasn’t a smart response. The person had decided they hadn’t interviewed well so had decided they were no longer being considered for the role. Moral of this story is take care in how you communicate with others especially when emailing.

It’s all about the stepping stones !

It has been several months since I let my fingers do the walking on my keyboard but I have finally pushed aside the excuses. Funny thing is even though I have been avoiding writing a new blog I have missed sitting down and sharing my thoughts, advice and reflections  with my virtual friends.

At denovo HQ we have had the opportunity to work with some great clients this year. They find their way to us as when they are in need of support, advice, or just some inspiration to find their career mojo or that next career adventure.  The most rewarding thing for me as a career strategist is getting feedback from clients that they have pushed through the fear barrier and are both motivated and determined to reclaim their career mojo.  I have to be honest, sometimes reading these emails or receiving the feedback in person I feel guilty as all I did was help them identify what action needed to be taken and then encourage them take the first one or two steps.

In most cases my clients have been hesitant in taking the first few steps as they have allowed themselves to imagine the worse case scenario of those steps going badly wrong. Reality is even if they go slightly wrong or not as planned it is not a major catastrophe. At the end of the day you are the  main reason your being held back from finding your career mojo or that next career adventure. So  my challenge to you is what is something you can do to increase you career mojo  and just get out there and take that step.

If you are sitting there and at a lose about what that step needs to be flick me a message and I would be happy to brainstorm some ideas with you.


Gearing up for 2014

I’m currently on my summer vacation and have set myself a challenge to post a mini blog each day till I get back to work on the 6th January.

For a number of years I have used the summer holiday break to write my goals for the upcoming year. I have found the best way to prepare myself is to spend time reflecting on the past 12 months . There are a number of ways you can undertake refection exercises my favourite is asking myself three questions.

1. What are the three career achievements I am most proud of in 2013?
2. What were the three career lowlights I don’t want to repeat in 2014?
3. What career goals did I set in 2013 that I didn’t achieve and why did’t this happen?

The most challenging question for me is frequently number 3. I feel a sense of personal disappointment and the old failure cloud can creep over me. It would be easy to just drop this question but I find it helps me to really focus. It also helps me think hard about what’s important to me, why I set the goal in the first place and finally what am I willing to do differently in upcoming year.

My challenge for you over the next week is to take some “ME” time to undertake career reflection and then set yourself some goals to make 2014 a career charged year and be the best you can be.


Positive Self Reflection – our unsung hero

Starting a new role is such an exciting time but so often brings with it a flood of self doubt and nervousness. It can hit people a few days before they start or as late as in the middle of the wee hours on their first day.  That self talk kicks in and goes a little like this …. will they like me, will I be able to do the job, what if I can’t meet their expectations.

Two of my clients started exciting new roles this week and experienced exactly this and for both of them the self talk and nervousness had come as a surprise. I expect this was partly because they had both been in their previous roles five plus years and hadn’t been the new kid on the block for some time.  It is always easy giving advice from the sideline but I couldn’t hold back. I reminded them that their organisations could have chosen someone else but they had seen the talent and skill match and wanted them on their team.  I got them to reflect on how they felt when they started their last job and reflect on what they had achieved within their first six months. Instantly the tensions started to disappear and I could hear the self belief come back in to their voices.

It was a great reminder to me that we all experience times of self doubt and the best tool we have at our finger tips is “positive self reflection” identifying and reminding ourselves what we have achieved before, how far we have come and the value we have added along the way.

Your challenge from me:  is next time you find yourself experiencing that self doubt chatter find a quiet spot and do some self reflecting on the value you bring to your client and/or employer.

You’re not alone – Monday blue’s can hit us all

One of my clients asked me last week if I had ever experienced “Monday Blues”. When I responded “sure I have”, a look of surprise come over their face! I have come to realize that even when you love your job the Sunday evening blues or Monday morning blues can hit you. For me I think this started when I was young and Sunday evenings always had a certain ritual that made me feel sad the weekend was over and slightly hesitant the busy week was just around the corner.  Mum would make my sister and I get ready for our school week, ensure shoes were polished, homework completed, and nagging us that we had to have an early night. As I have got older and wiser I have introduced some strategies to help ensure my Monday’s are a positive day or just like any other day at the office. I have to admit I am not always successful but when I fall of the wagon I know what to do when the next Sunday evening comes along.

One of the strategies that worked for a number of years was to get into work early on a Monday and tick some boxes off my do list, tidy my desk and have some quiet time before others arrived. I had started to notice few months back that this was not working as well as it had in the past. I would find myself unproductively surfing the internet.

Last Sunday morning I decided I needed to change my Monday routine so this week I sent myself off to a 7am spin class. Not only did I enjoy the class I had one of my most productive happy Monday’s for some weeks. I am already looking forward to hitting the bike again this Monday.

Some other strategies you might like to try are:

Get Up a Little Earlier on Monday – rather than staying in bed till the last minute then having to race to the office give yourself a little extra time. It’s amazing the calming feeling this can leave you with. If you’re not a morning exercise person head to a local cafe and treat yourself to breakfast or a coffee.

Set yourself up for a good start to the week before you leave work on Friday – at the very least, if you plan out Monday’s workload on Friday, you’ll feel less overwhelmed come Monday. Planning ahead can help you cope with Mondays and maintain your productivity levels for the rest of the week. Include de-cluttering your desk and getting any filing done and dusted.

Do something special on Sunday evenings – try and mix up your Sunday evening routine. This might be a TV free evening, a long soak in the bath before you go to bed, preparing a special dinner or trying a new recipe.  We have gone to an early movie on a Sunday which still allows us to have an early night.

Monday morning doesn’t have to be the most painful day of the week; it is only so, if you allow it to!!

Some years ago I came across a great book called “No More Blue Mondays: Four Keys to Finding Fulfillment at Work” by Robin A. Sheerer.  Alas I leant the book to a client and it hasn’t found its way back to me. When I read the book the following really resonated with me and I have since shared it with a number of clients.

 As you continue to pursue the goal of creating satisfying work and a life you love.  It is important to remember that making a commitment is not a one time event.  You will need to renew your commitment again and again.  Life is not static.  You will encounter new obstacles, get tired, bored, and discouraged; occasionally lose your way or get sidetracked; grow up and grow old; notice that your energy and priorities have changed; and even discard some values and adopt new ones.  So remember that commitment needs to be ongoing.   Committing yourself to work is no different from committing yourself to any important relationship or undertaking.  From time to time you need to reevaluate your decision and then renew your commitment, or commit yourself to a new direction.

Enjoy the Journey!

Your challenge this week – what can you do differently to help avoid the Monday Blues.

Four qualities you should have in your toolbox

Late last year I stumbled across the Happenstance Theory (Jim Krumboltz). It really caught my interest as at the time I had a number of clients who were either going through restructures or had recently been made redundant. The more I read about Happenstance Theory the more I became convinced the four qualities often referred to as key to enabling people to capitalize on chance events and turn serendipity into opportunity, could be found in my clients who were successfully managing change in their careers. More importantly these clients were able to leverage off the change in a positive way.

Happenstance Theory focuses on the importance of creating and transforming unplanned events into opportunities for learning. This is not the same as leaving everything to chance. Rather, this theory advocates an active searching process while also remaining open to new and unexpected opportunities that were not planned.

 Curiosity                         exploring new learning

Persistence                     exerting effort despite setbacks

Flexibility                        adapting to changing attitudes and circumstance

Optimism                        viewing new opportunities as possible and attainable

The reality is we will continue to face constant changes at work with the ever increasing pace of technology changes and the unpredictable economic market.  If we want to be career resilient we should all ensure these five key skills are at the top of our toolbox.

This week’s challenge is to undertake a quick self assessment of the competencies above, how do you rate yourself? If you identify areas that require further development or a bit more proactive effort on your part put a plan in place today. One of my clients decided to place this list on the wall in her work area and she reported back that it really helped her take control of her own destiny during some pretty tough weeks of uncertainly.

Do you have a plan for the next six months?

Up until my late 30’s (a few years ago now) I never really understood why people always asked what your career goals were.    Around this time I was encouraged to read Anthony Robbins book by my mentor while on holiday in Fiji. I wasn’t really into reading big books and the only thing that ran through my head was how on earth she expected me to read such a big book in six days. Well to cut a long story short I did read it and not only did I read it, I also did the exercises. It all seemed to make sense and I suddenly found myself setting goals including a number of career related goals.

I realized I had some vague career goals but what I was missing was –

  1. writing them down.
  2. chunking them into bite sized actions to ensure I stayed focused and on track, and to get them across the finishing line.

As a Leadership and Career Strategist Coach  I am regularly reminded that the difference between those who have their career mojo and those who don’t, is the mojo guys have their goals written down, chunked into smaller actions and they make time to review them (not always weekly, but at least every couple of months).

I am sure you will all agree that most of us say we are going to do this and that, but never sit down and plan out how we are going to do it? My challenge to you is if you have never set goals or it’s been ages since you have, give it a go and set yourself some career goals for the next six months. A little quote that might help you along the way is “if it is to be it is up to me”.

There are plenty of books and website resources on setting goals and I believe the best approach is finding a goal setting framework that works for you. I now use a combination of Keith Abraham, Anthony Robbins, and Jack Canfield in setting my goals.  I have wobbles along the way like anyone else but I can put my hand on my heart and say I do make better progress in being the best I can be when I am focused on my career goals.

Your challenge this weekend is to check out Keith Abraham’s Passionate People website  .There are some great goal setting tools available.  You could even go one step further and set some goals for the next six months so that by the end of 2014 you can say you had a great Career Year.