I’m guessing you’ve come to this site because you are thinking about next steps in your career and know that a CV is a tool you need to make your next move.
But what if you don’t know what that next move is?
What if you have questions about what might suit you or what is available?
What if you are struggling to come up with ideas and options?
Or if you are overwhelmed by your choices and have no idea how to decide?
What if you’ve narrowed it down to a couple of ideas, but remain undecided between them?
What if you have an end goal in mind, but no roadmap to get there? Maybe the steps you need to take from here to there seem elusive.
What if you know where you are heading, understand the steps you need to take, but need help understanding how to find and access opportunities?
What if you lack confidence to move forward?
What if you need more than a CV in your toolbox ? to get the job done?
If you are nodding your head, if any of these questions resonate, then you may benefit from a personal career guidance meeting.
Tailored to you and your specific needs, a personal career guidance meeting can help you:
• Unlock, explore, and review your career ideas
• Identify career goals that align with your skills, qualities, interests, and values
• Uncover any limiting assumptions that may be impacting your career choices
• Evaluate any skills gaps and make realistic plans to deal with them
• Identify and address your career information needs
• Find and access relevant sources of labour market information (LMI)
• Make confident, well-informed and realistic career decisions
Alongside my work as a CV writer, I am also a qualified and registered career guidance practitioner, offering high-quality personal career guidance to my clients.
Find out more about personal career guidance and book a session via my other website: https://sunrisecareerguidance.co.uk/sunrise-career-guidance-for-you/ or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an enquiry.
Biscuits can help all sorts of situations, from tough negotiations through to revision sessions. They bring a comfort factor to the trickiest of scenarios, geeing people up and helping them through. Writing your CV is no exception. A biscuit or two (in moderation) can boost your mojo and help you along your way.
However, the biscuit I am considering now has a unique superpower that can improve your CV. Really. It’s the all-butter mini animal biscuit. These bite-size morsels are yummy, but they can also inspire some great CV content. It’s a win-win! You can be forgiven for thinking I’ve lost my marbles at this stage, but I can explain.
When my children were small, I’d often pop a bag of animal biscuits into my bag; they were perfect for a day trip – tasty and great to share. What’s more, they provided entertainment on long car journeys or during a picnic lunch. Our game was for two snackers to draw an animal biscuit from the bag, and assess which animal would win in a fight. A bit brutal, I guess, but the kids loved it.
The animals were drawn, and the fight called. Owl versus duck. Elephant versus camel. Monkey versus elephant. And so on. Whatever mammal or bird you pulled, your task was to assess its traits and work out how it could overcome its competitor. The powers of strength, agility, flight, intelligence, and size would be named and applied to win the virtual battle. It passed the time! Fast forward a few years, and the children have grown. The game is a fond family memory, but the premise can still be applied.
When writing your CV, use animal biscuits to improve your career stories, feeding powerful bullets that show your skills and results. Imagine yourself as a contender in the animal biscuit contest. What animal are you? What are your traits and strengths? Who or what is/was your opponent? How did you apply your natural abilities and acquired experience to overcome your competitor or challenge? Was it your ability to change that won you the promotion? Did your empathic approach help you to retain a sceptical client? Did your analytical skills allow you to negotiate a better deal?
Whatever you come up against in your career, your skills and strengths help you to triumph. To quote Oprah Winfrey, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”
Be sure to tell the story on your CV, show the struggle, show your strength, and help the reader to visualise the battle’s turning point and point of victory.
Want to Ace Your CV?
Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:
If you are planning a job search anytime soon, your personal email account is likely to get a whole lot busier. You’ll be sending a tonne of emails to recruiters, gatekeepers, and those within your existing network to secure your next position.
If you haven’t already set up an email signature that supports your job search and career goals, that represents a lot of missed opportunities to promote yourself. Using an email signature in your job search is like handing your personal business card to everyone you engage with.
Creating your email signature is easy and takes just a matter of minutes, yet this simple action can have a huge impact on your career. Every time you send an email, your signature will be there on the bottom, working hard for you, without you even thinking about it. It won’t just attract the notice of your direct recipient – your mails may be forwarded on to others, where it will introduce you in your own words.
You can use your email signature to:
>> Signpost your intended career direction via a clear headline or job title.
>> Introduce yourself and build rapport by including a professional photo.
>> Direct readers to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or career-relevant social accounts.
>> Show you are detail-orientated and care about your professional representation.
If you Google ‘email signature tool’ you’ll find a range of free and paid-for signature generation tools. I tested htmlsig and WiseStamp, both of which offer free and paid services, and was pleased with both versions. Each site offered step-by-step guidance on how to embed the signature, and both provide a help centre in case you need support.
Here is the email signature I generated using htmlsig’s free service:
Here is my email signature created using WiseStamp’s free service:
It’s quick and easy to implement, it can be free, and it brings a truckload of professionalism to your job search. Grab your personal email signature today.
This week, I interviewed someone very close to me about her career change. I’m delighted to share her answers, along with some points to take-away, and I hope these will inspire you on your career change journey.
What career are you changing from and to, and why?
Although not a direct career choice, I have been a public law solicitor with the same London local authority for more years than I care to remember. I have enjoyed the status, salary, stimulus, and professional camaraderie, and even the hard work and monumental legal studies.
Yet, my true passion is wine. For years, I have been consumed by discerning wine choice and drinking, never-ending wine education, wine tasting, visiting world wine regions, charity wine evenings, and taking wine exams. Last January, I obtained my WSET Diploma in wine (equivalent to a degree), culminating in my graduation ceremony at London’s Guildhall. I may now use the letters AIWS and wear the small, oval red lapel diploma badge. My next big challenge? Breaking into the on-trade or off-trade wine sector through a role in hotel/hospitality, or as a sommelier, wine merchant, supermarket wine buyer, wine educator, vineyard manager, or even wine producer.
It takes courage to ditch a financially-secure and established career and plunge into an unfamiliar job sector, but when you truly know your passion, it’s worth pursuing it.
When did you get your lucky break?
After years of irregular internet searching for that illusive wine job, one day while out shopping I was seduced by the purple façade and wine on display at a newly opened local wine merchant. Lured inside, I chatted to the Australian owner who poured me a glass of Torrontes (Argentinian signature white grape and wine) and I promised to email my CV (panic – I needed to revamp this into a wine CV), with a view to working Saturdays as an intern wine sales assistant. Although unpaid, the reward would be tasting the wines and taking home bottles to evaluate and appreciate. I soon emailed a credible wine CV, thanks to Giraffe CVs, securing this valuable work experience to kick-start my wine career. I worked Saturdays in the wine merchants for two years, learning about the off-trade, regional wines, wine producers, fine wines and champagnes, and wine suppliers, all the while studying for my wine diploma with the Wine and Spirit Trust in Bermondsey, London.
Your lucky break could come when you least expect it, so be ready with a credible and tailored CV that reflects your relevant skills, experience, and motivation for the job in question.
How did you build further experience?
Although I enjoyed my time at the wine merchants, I came to realise that wine retail was not for me. I wanted to try my hand as a sommelier in an upmarket hotel, where I could immerse myself in a huge wine cellar with hundreds of fine and expensive wines, and learn how to deliver amazing hospitality to guests. I wanted to emulate the brilliant service experiences, which I can recall as a guest in a hotel or fine dining restaurant, knowing how this service enhanced the food and wine experience.
Having thoroughly researched the role of sommelier, a couple of years ago I responded to an online job advert for a junior sommelier at a boutique wine hotel. I didn’t hear anything for a while, and the silence brought up fresh doubts about whether I really wanted to leave my secure, long-term role as a solicitor. After much thought, I contacted the hotel and asked to speak to the head sommelier, making an appointment to meet with him one Friday evening, prising him away from his busy work schedule. We agreed that I would work evenings and weekends on a part-time basis, allowing me to maintain my day job. I was willing and enthusiastic to work unpaid in order to obtain this valuable experience. After a couple of weeks’ hospitality sector culture shock and the steep learning curve of hard, physical, fast service work, I was given a zero-hours contract to sign, with copious company policies and workplace information to memorise.
My three months at the hotel, working under the valued guidance of the head sommelier, was far from easy. The long evenings working in the fine dining restaurant/bistro after my legal day job, running to and from the cellar via a dark narrow staircase, and cleaning up at the end of wine service, were exhausting. My expectation of the glamourous sommelier role advising guests and diners about choosing wonderful wines was modified by all the extra menial duties, such as the emptying of bins full of empty bottles into the huge glass receptors. I left the role to concentrate on my final course module and exam for the wine diploma.
Be gutsy about pursuing your goal. It’s unlikely that emailing your CV in response to an advertised role will be enough. Take the bull by the horns, and contact the hiring manager directly, explaining who you are and what you can do.
What happened next?
So to continue my fledgling wine experience in the hotel hospitality sector, in September, I emailed my CV to Gerrard Basset, a formidable figure in the world of wine. The only person who has obtained Master Sommelier of the World (2010), Master of Wine, and a Wine MBA, he is also the president of WSET, and the man who personally presented me with my wine diploma at the Guildhall London. Gerrard and his wife own and run Hotel Terravina, a cosy, fine dining wine hotel in the New Forest, where I celebrated my birthday with friends, last year. He encouraged me to email him dates for doing a one-week stage at the hotel, which I completed in early December.
Identify those who can help you with your new career, and find opportunities to develop the relationship. A confident yet polite approach can open unexpected doors.
How did you find your next experience?
I arrived on a Sunday evening and was met by the head sommelier, who I would be shadowing that week. What a fun first hour! I was invited to watch the dramatic performance of the Sabrage, a guest experience that involved slicing the neck of a chilled champagne bottle with a long, curved sword/sabre. It looked magnificent on the garden veranda as the head sommelier expertly demonstrated the swift sword action, skimming up to the thin neck of the bottle and the cork catapulting into the garden.
The head sommelier had planned an interesting week for me, and I learned many aspects of the sommelier role that I had not covered during my previous experience. The wine service element actually only represents 20% of the role. I experienced the office and paperwork; ordering and checking deliveries; stocktaking of wine, spirits, and glassware; cellar work; cleanliness and care of the different glassware and equipment; meticulous wine service; the bar (I had to taste all the wines by the glass from the Enomatic wine dispenser!); wine tastings; and wine education. I was anxious not to put a foot wrong, but inevitably made a few, luckily not disastrous, mistakes. My role was not as autonomous as before, but this hotel was even more prestigious, with meticulous standards, so I was happy to shadow and observe.
Once you have secured a placement, throw yourself into it and learn and experience everything you can. The next step is to capture that experience on your CV and use it to secure your next position.
How will you progress your career change?
I am currently reflecting on my weeks’ experience and the myriad responsibilities involved in being a sommelier. There are lots of advertisements for sommelier jobs but, for now, I plan to carry on building up my experience in the wine sector until I find the right wine job for me.
My experiences have taught me that it is possible to pursue an entirely new career from a passionate interest while retaining your existing role, giving you the courage and motivation to educate yourself and build up a great new CV.
With a second career, give yourself the time and space you need to carve out the right path. Don’t rush headlong into a job that feels wrong. It’s worth giving your choices due consideration before making a leap.
Tips for wannabe career changers
Here are some practical tips to help you convert your career dream into career reality:
Be clear in your own mind what you want from your career. Start to manifest it by telling yourself aloud and, better still, by writing it down. If you are unsure what it is that you want, here are some ways to uncover your inner career desires:
Picture your perfect working day, capturing as many details as possible to bring the scene to life. Get as clear about your aspirations as possible, then work towards every element.
Leverage online career tools, such as the brilliant Plotr. Free to use, Plotr was established to help 11 to 24-year-olds discover and explore careers they’ll love. In fact, this engaging tool is extremely useful for adult career changers, leading to some true light bulb moments.
Conduct your own skills audit, clarifying your strengths and interests to define your target career path. Challenge yourself to write down every skill you can think of, and then group common themes. It should become clear where your strengths lie.
Establish your ‘zone of genius’, a phrase originally coined by psychologist, Gay Hendricks, in his book, The Big Leap. Hendricks said, “In your Zone of Genius, though the time you spend there produces great financial abundance, you do not feel that you are expending effort to produce it. In your Zone of Genius, work doesn’t feel like work.” Note every skill you have under the headings of genius, excellence, OK, poor. The items you list in your zone of genius should become the most important requirements for your next role.
Recognise the potential challenges and obstacles standing between you and your dream career. By facing potential problems and fears, you will be in a better position to seek support and plug any skills gaps. Do you need to find and enrol on some relevant training? Do you need to build your network? Do you need to find out more about a specific industry or role? Do you need more training? More hands-on experience? Is there something you struggle with and you know it is an integral part of your desired career, such as giving presentations or managing a team? Is there anything you can do to boost your confidence in this area? Is there training you can undertake to improve your management skills? Would working with a mentor help you tackle the challenges of a desired role?
Use your end-game picture to set clear, time-defined immediate, medium- and long-term goals. This can help to ensure you are always making the right choices and devoting your energy and resources to an action or path that directly relates to what you want. Frame every decision in terms of the question: “Will this take me closer to my goal or further away from it?”
Once you have defined your goals, take focused and consistent action to bring you closer to your career dream. As you achieve each set of tasks, cross them off and move down the list. You don’t always need to make huge leaps, it’s enough to move forward one step at a time.
I’m sure we’ve all had them. The jobs that stick in our minds as being the ‘worst ever’ long after receiving our P45. Bad feeling can develop for any number of reasons – an intense atmosphere, a bully in the workplace, we may feel underpaid or overworked, or just hoodwinked about the scope of the role. Whatever the cause of our discontent, the bad taste in our mouths can linger long after we have moved on. Some jobs do just suck but, remember, there’s always something to be learnt from a negative experience.
Here are four lessons from my worst job ever.
#1 Know what the role is
My worst ever job was a brand new, never-been-done-before role, and turned out to be far more experimental than I’d anticipated. The job was with a well-established and prestigious company, who I naively imagined would have mapped out more of a direction for the role in question. Uh-uh. Wrong. My main beef with my job was that I simply did not have enough to do and, despite all my best efforts, could not fill my time with the allocated workload. As I’ll explain later, I tried and tried to build responsibility, but the scope was actually very narrow and there really was no room to widen it.
In reality, the actual work turned out to involve one task, which wasn’t very challenging and didn’t take very long, leaving long periods where there was simply nothing to do but stare out of the window and twiddle my thumbs. If I were reading this, I’d question the proactivity of the writer – surely, there must have been something else to do? Did you look hard enough? Unfortunately, yes I did, and no, there wasn’t. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a ‘doer’, so you can imagine this lack of work drove me insane. One other girl and I were shut away in an office, away from the main hustle and bustle of the office, tormented by the hive of activity and interaction that was evident on the other side of the glass.
I must have asked about what was expected during the interview, but my inner optimist saw the lack of substance as an opportunity to shape my new job. Excited about the prospect of working with this well-known company, and unwilling to rock the boat, I sat tight and let the company interview and select me, rather than seeing it as an opportunity to interview and select my next employer.
What’s the lesson?
Don’t assume. Instead, make sure you are as clear as you possibly can be about what a role entails before you take it on. Probe the interviewer to understand what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis, the results your performance will be measured on, and how your role can evolve. If someone is already doing the job, talk to them or, at least, look them up online. Your interview is your chance to make sure this job in this company is right for you, just as much as the company uses the opportunity to ensure you are right for them.
#2 Don’t deflect career unhappiness into other areas of your life
Here’s what happened to me. I was bored out of my skull, extremely unhappy, nothing to do for most of the day. So what did I decide the answer would be? Food. Not a clever move. Lunch seemed to be the only thing to look forward to, and I made much more of it than I should have done. As a result, lunch made a lot more of me than there should have been. Once home, in the evening, depressed by the prospect of the next day, I continued to comfort eat, making my weight problem worse and worse. In four short yet extremely long months I ballooned, putting on more than a stone in weight and setting a scary and lasting pattern for the next 20 years of my life.
What’s the lesson?
If I had the opportunity to advise my younger self, I’d urge her to focus on other projects and activities, allowing her to advance outside of the nine-to-five. Work is a really important aspect of our daily lives but, whilst it is not fulfilling your dreams, it’s a good idea to ensure it isn’t all-consuming. I must have been job-seeking during this time (I’ll come on to that later), but I wish I had taken up other interests to distract myself from the depressing hours spent in the office. Whilst your brain isn’t fully engaged in one pursuit, it has room to fulfil another, and I could have achieved a lot with that available headspace. I wish I’d pursued another interest, like running at lunchtime, something I did the following year. One day, I even ran past the Queen in her carriage on the Mall.
#3 Explore other avenues before you quit
I must have been fairly desperate to knock on the door of my boss’ office and ask what else I could do to help, but I mustered the courage on more than one occasion. The wider team were bustling with enterprise, and I felt sure there must be something else, anything else, I could do to get involved. Unfortunately, I was shut down on each attempt, and my role never did evolve into anything more.
I took to wandering the open plan floor, getting to know the movers and shakers, trying to get an insight into their activities, hoping it would lead to more work. Nothing doing. It seemed like a closed world, with no welcome to outsiders.
What’s the lesson?
Although it didn’t work for me, I can say hand-on-heart that I did my best to make the best of a bad situation. If you are in a bad job, I’d encourage you to explore every possible avenue before you quit.
#4 Know when to call it quits
I must have decided fairly quickly that this role wasn’t for me, as four months later I had started a new role. Less than a mile down the road, the new job was a world away from my worst role ever. I had wide-ranging responsibility, a boss who embraced professional development, and the opportunity to learn every single day. More than that, I was busy! Busy and energised. I even took up running at lunchtime.
What’s the lesson?
Sometimes, jobs just don’t work out, and no amount of hope or anguish will change the outcome. Once you have made the decision to move on, move on.
So, that’s my worst ever job. What was yours and what lessons did you take from it?
I caught a television news interview with an anti-doping expert this week and, whilst her words and delivery were convincing, my attention strayed to the background behind her. I got the impression she was filming herself from her own computer, sat at her desk with a home office set-up visible in the background.
Like many home offices, shelving dominated, packed with files, books, and other paraphernalia that gets called upon in the course of day-to-day work. I could make out the titles of several books that corroborated her title and stance – books on sports and how they were governed. She wasn’t focusing on what was behind her but, nevertheless, this lady’s physical background gave depth to her interview and played a role in increasing her credibility.
Her physical background had me convinced, however, if I’d remembered her name and Googled her, I’m sure I’d be rewarded with countless matches – from her organisation, from LinkedIn, from industry events, interviews, and more.
It got me thinking about the ‘background’ candidates consciously and inadvertently present online, and how it affects their employability.
The purpose of a background search of any kind is to discover more about an individual. Today, a simple Google search on a specific candidate can throw up a tonne of relevant information or nothing at all. Both of these scenarios can lead recruiters and hiring managers to draw their own conclusions.
A positive background search will enable the searcher to verify information they already hold, so that they can be positive you are who you say you are. It should also allow them to uncover additional evidence of your skills, experience, and potential, thus building your case for employment.
An unsuccessful background search will leave the searcher scratching their head, unable to verify the stated facts presented on your CV. They may even struggle to find you online at all, leaving them wondering about your lack of profile.
CareerBuilder’s 2015 social media recruitment survey found that 51% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates and more than a third (35%) of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can’t find online. Once found, employers aren’t necessarily looking for information to rule you out, as six in 10 surveyed are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job” and 32% of those surveyed found information which supported the candidate’s application.
So, how should you take charge of your personal search results and ensure that the returns play out in your favour? Here are five areas of digital turf you can confidently ring-fence for your job search:
Technically, this could be combined with point #2, yet LinkedIn is so important, I felt it deserved its own section. LinkedIn often dominates search results for individual names, so maintaining a LinkedIn profile that is clearly about you is essential to return a positive match.
First of all, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile, then check that your name, headline, photo, and industry details are clearly about you, rather than a namesake.
Next, check that your LinkedIn profile is complete, verifying and enhancing the information already presented on your CV. If you are confident in displaying a comprehensive profile to a broad professional network, this can reassure the searcher, convincing them of your sincerity and reputation. LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements will also enhance your standing.
To provide deeper insight, consider using LinkedIn’s publishing feature, showcasing a video or interview on your profile, or engaging in LinkedIn groups.
#2 Social Media
Do each and every one of your social bios reflect your professional offering and status, as outlined on your CV?
Are you tweeting about the latest industry news, sharing tips or photos from industry events, or interacting with individuals and organisations with the same professional interests?
Are you showcasing your visual portfolio on Pinterest or Instagram, or involved in relevant Twitter chats and communities on Google+? Are you sharing relevant video tips or insights on YouTube?
Social media timelines offer a real-time insight into your interests and activities, highlighting your thoughts and focus right now. This is invaluable for recruiters and would-be employers hoping to discover more of the real you.
If a search only throws up unconnected social chatter, it won’t support your professional profile, and may even put your reputation at risk. Double check purely social profiles are kept private, and that public profiles reflect your professional goals.
#3 Blog or Personal Website
Perhaps you blog or have a personal website. If so, check it’s up to date and reflects your current professional interests and aspirations. If you don’t have a dedicated site on which to share your professional musings, consider using LinkedIn Publisher as a platform.
#4 Organisational Profiles
Your current organisation may feature your bio on their website, and this can be telling in more ways than one. If it doesn’t reflect your here and now, consider a refresh to make sure it does. Earlier this year, I read a jokey bio that had the potential to disrupt the candidate’s job search. Luckily we located and addressed it before her job search got properly underway.
#5 Industry Events
If you’ve been invited to speak at an industry event, your bio may feature on the event website, so make sure it reflects your main messages and the professional strengths you want to promote. Even if you haven’t been invited to present, you can engage on event forums or share event highlights on your social profiles, linking yourself as someone interested in lifelong learning and development.