- Be prepared. If it happens again don’t let it take you by surprise – redundancy is rarely a complete surprise to those affected. Keep abreast of company and industry developments. Look for indicators such as a downturn in company profits, loss of a major customer, wider political and economic issues, etc. Put together an action plan now before the situation becomes pressurised and emotional. Cultivate your personal contacts network; it will become very important in any future job search. Keep your basic CV up-to-date.
- Keep your skills relevant to the job and keep developing them. Be aware of the wider market and trends within your business/profession. If your role is in an area that is likely to be outmoded, for example, by new technology, a cheaper workforce, etc., look around for different roles in which to apply your skills.
- Ensure your performance meets, and preferably exceeds, those standards set in your appraisal/performance objectives. Think with your employer’s “hat” on – if redundancy were looming what would seriously make them want to keep you? (Try to be objective – people commonly believe that the company could not do without them, usually that is not true). Maintain a good record of punctuality, reliability, low sickness rates (where possible), and so on. Be seen as a good, personable employee.
- Keep aware of developments within your industry and stay abreast of current vacancies, salary rates and so on. If you consider that redundancy is on the horizon you may then be better prepared to find a new job before it happens.
- Maintain control and ‘ownership’ over your career, throughout your career. Do not allow that focus, or dependency, to shift to your employer. No one will ever care more about your career than you do.
If you have been affected by redundancy, and particularly if you are now settled into a new job, it is likely that you are keen to put the experience out of your mind and move on. Unfortunately it is not possible to guarantee that redundancy never happens to you again; indeed in modern careers, the experience of redundancy is increasingly expected. However, there are a number of considerations to think through in your next role that may reduce the risk. Here are 5 key steps you can take:
In the fourth and final article in our series on influencing at interviews we look at the psychological features that commonly affect interviewers and may bias them for or against a candidate. Understanding this may help you in your interview preparation.
Warning - Jargon Alert! The following article contains some... But of course you won't be using any at the interview!
Primacy and recency biases: Research indicates that interviewers tend to remember the start and end of the interview but are somewhat vague about the middle, so a strong starting and ending performance is important.
The primacy effect becomes transformed into the expectancy effect where the interviewer forms an expectation of the candidate from their application form and initial verbal and non-verbal behaviour. These early impressions strongly affect the final appointment decision.
The contrast effect indicates that the interviewer's decisions are affected by those whom they have seen before you. They pay particular attention to any information (good or bad) that is unusual or out of the ordinary.
The personal liking bias suggests that interviewers select people they like and they allow their ratings of a candidate’s ability to be affected by such liking. The greater the perceived similarity between yourself and the interviewer, the more they will interpret your behaviour as reflecting attitudes that are similar to their own.
The interviewer’s confirmatory information-seeking bias may lead them to actively look for evidence to support their initial impression and thereby to avoid contradictory evidence.
It is important to give good explanations for any less than positive elements of your career history or CV. This is because people assume that we deserve our status, success, rank, etc. Similarly we assume that others are less fortunate because they deserve to be (“people get what they deserve”). The effect is that unless you use such explanations appropriately you will be blamed for your perceived failures. Remember that negative information about a candidate disproportionately outweighs positive information, particularly if this impression is given early in the interview.
Many employers will seek to overcome these biases in order to be more objective and fair to candidates. They may use structured and competency based interviews, and involve two or more interviewers. This helps to reduce the impact of these biases to some degree although it should be noted that they will still be in operation.
In the third of our series of articles on influencing at job interviews we look at what you should be aware of at the interview itself.
As we have outlined in an earlier article, there are three essential impressions to convey during the actual interview:
1. Be Assertive
An assertive style will be more effective than a passive one. Being assertive might include asking the interviewer questions, clarifying a question, arguing a point and taking the initiative in raising topics for discussion.
2. Use Positive Language
Successful interviewees were found to be more likely to demonstrate certain behaviours. For example, they make use of positive and concrete language, give support or evidence for the claims they make, and are able to identify with prospective employers.
3. Avoid Long Pauses
Avoiding long delays in responding to questions and general hesitation was considered helpful for interview success.
4. Be Dominant!
Interviewers liked candidates who revealed a degree of dominance at certain points in the interview (e.g. when the interviewer did not allow the candidate enough time to complete their response). Beware though of displaying arrogant or aggressive behaviour.
What are your experiences of using influencing skills at interviews? What has or hasn't worked for you? Share your stories with us - we'd love to hear from you.
If you’ve been following the advice on our career transition programmes, your efforts at developing a good CV and applying for appropriate roles will result in invitations to job interviews. [If you are struggling to get interviews there is a problem at one of these earlier stages].
Most of us experience a degree of nervousness around interviews and when the job in question is one you are really keen to get, this can become more intense. So, assuming you are following good interview preparation practice (as outlined in our career transition programmes and in other articles here) what else can you be aware of that might help you land that job offer?
Over the last ten years or so, a number of studies have looked at the interview process and have identified a number of non-verbal and verbal ‘influencers’. Here we are looking at some key non-verbal influencers.
Interviewers have been found to believe that candidates’ personalities can be deduced from the non-verbal cues they give. In the interview situation, it is said that non-verbal behaviours can account for more than 80% of an applicant’s rating. Many of these sound rather obvious but you might be surprised by how many people trip themselves up over some of these at interview. Job interviewers pay attention to:
To learn more about career coaching or career programmes, or to make a free initial one-hour consultation, contact us.
If you’ve been following the advice on our career transition programmes, your efforts at assessing your strengths, skills and preferences, identifying the right job market for you, and developing a great CV will mean you are ready to make successful job applications. [If you are struggling with these earlier areas it will impact your success at the later stages and career coaching may be helpful].
Over the last ten years or so, a number of studies have looked at job interviews and identified a number of things candidates can do to maximise their chances of success. This is the first in a series of articles in which we will look at each in turn. Here we are looking at how to favourably influence the chances of getting an interview.
People like people like themselves
Until such time as selection is carried out without human involvement, and despite the best efforts of many interviewers, the selection process is subjective (and in some cases highly so). It is therefore susceptible to being influenced by the well-informed candidate. Here are some important things to bear in mind:
1. Organisational Fit
This is very important. ‘Fit’ concerns issues such as an applicant’s attitude, personality, values and appearance. For many organisations (e.g. John Lewis) the selection focus has moved away from just matching applicant’s skills to a particular job and more towards matching individuals with their future work and interactions with a wide range of colleagues. The view taken is that an organisation can help an employee develop appropriate skills with training, but cannot do much to enhance attitude or fit. The person offered a position needs to be able to fit into the social environment of the company’s culture, its customers and suppliers. Your CV (or application form) is the first impression the organisation has of you. The way your CV looks, the content of your profile and the kind of attributes and style you describe, will be used to form this initial impression. It is important therefore that you get it right – in other words that it accurately reflects you and does you justice, and describes the characteristics they are looking for (and of course those two things should overlap otherwise you shouldn’t be applying for the job!)
2. Selectors' Aims
Studies consistently indicate that selectors are looking for broadly similar attributes in candidates. They are looking for successful (“winning”) people and those with the potential to be successful. This means people they perceive to be appropriately intelligent, assertive, creative, knowledgeable, optimistic, enthusiastic and confident. They want to weed out those whom they feel do not have this potential. With this in mind review your CV or application form: does it reflect a confident, successful person (or someone with the potential for success)? Or does it reflect a bland, unconfident person or someone who is underplaying his or her achievements or skills?
3. Application Form and CV
Selectors form impressions from the early information they receive, therefore information presented at the start of your CV affects how later information is interpreted. If the selector first reads positive information at the start of the CV, later, less positive, information will have less of a negative impact. Again, review your CV to ensure that the top third of the first page contains the information you consider is most influential to this application. This will certainly include your Contact details and your appropriately worded Profile or Personal Summary. You should then consider what section should best follow. There are no hard and fast rules to CV layout. So for example if you have excellent and recent qualifications and the employer has specifically asked for them or if you know that the employer is a stickler for qualifications, you might follow your Profile section with your Education and Qualifications section. Equally if your qualifications are not so impressive or relevant, you might place this section at the end of the CV.
In the next article in the series, we will look at influencing during the interview itself.
To learn more about our career coaching or our career transition programmes, or to book a free initial one-hour consultation, contact us.
Many people dread having to attend interviews and feel nervous and uncomfortable at the prospect. When you consider that interviews are one of the least effective ways of selecting people for jobs, that anxiety seems even more pointless! But for now it seems that interviews are here to stay, so it is worthwhile ensuring that you don’t miss out on a good job by a poor interview.
Studies suggest that the five most common reasons people fail at interview are:
All of these reasons boil down to the same thing: lack of preparation. So, what can you do to ensure you are well prepared?
First and foremost, think with the employer’s “hat” on and attempt to see things from their perspective. Recruitment is an expensive and risky process. Employers want to ensure that they select the right person for the job and the company. They are seeking to satisfy themselves in three areas:
Your role in the process is to provide the evidence to be able to satisfy them on all three questions. The interview provides you with the opportunity to do this.
Suitable preparation therefore includes an understanding of the role, the company, how the company works and its culture (ie. how they do things, their ‘style’). [If you prepared the earlier stages of your job search thoroughly, these things will have formed part of your checklist when choosing which jobs to apply for].
You should prepare real examples from your experience and achievements which demonstrate your skill and fitness for the role. For example, if you know that the role requires analytical skills, you need to provide the best examples you have of a time when you employed your own analytical skills to a work task or problem. You should be prepared to describe the situation behind the problem or task, outline what action you took (in some detail and being sure to identify your abilities and characteristics) and then describe the positive outcome or result. You should do this for all aspects of the job’s requirements. In this way you can ensure that you are providing the interviewer with a clear, positive picture of yourself.
Being thoroughly prepared and in possession of your previous accomplishments and attributes also means that you don’t have to “swot up” for the interview by rote learning a 100 possible questions and hoping that you have prepared the right ones. Because whatever they ask, you already know the answer.
Job seekers: If you would like to share your interview experience or indeed pose a question, I would love to hear from you. Interviewers: what are your experiences? What represents the best and worst in interview practice to you?
In our outplacement and career coaching programmes we talk about the importance of ‘attitude’ in successful job searching. In our terms, ‘successful’ doesn’t just mean getting a job, it means getting the right job for you in a timely fashion. It means not underselling yourself or taking a role that doesn’t appropriately utilise your skills, strengths and values.
The approach you take to job searching, i.e. what you do and when you do it, is extremely important in achieving a successful outcome. The attitude which shapes that approach is also hugely important but receives much less attention.
Each year we work with hundreds of people who are facing redundancy or who are already unemployed. Our experience working with these clients has confirmed the importance of having the ‘right’ attitude. Those with it get new jobs significantly more quickly than those who don’t. So, what is the ‘right’ attitude? To illustrate let’s look at the unhelpful attitudes we sometimes encounter:
Interestingly we find that some clients are actually making little or no effort at all in finding a new role. For example, some come onto our outplacement programmes assuming that we will just find them a new job. There may be many different factors behind this. Some clients are still struggling with redundancy and are unconsciously expressing an attitude of “I shouldn’t be in this situation so why should I…” Others are coming from a feeling of utter helplessness, i.e. they feel so out of control of their situation that there is little point doing anything. In career coaching sessions we help them to recognise these thought patterns so that they see that this attitude is only hurting them and is not moving them forward positively. With support, they are then able to start coming to terms with their situation and move on.
Others seem to have the attitude that it’s all easy and doesn’t require any effort, or worse, reveal a sense of entitlement which again suggests that no effort is necessary or warranted – at least on their part! Recently a new client on one of our outplacement programmes asked me to get some feedback from a job interview which had gone badly. It became apparent that he’d performed extremely poorly in the interview and had been unable to give anything like adequate answers to the questions. In short, he hadn’t prepared properly. When we met for the feedback session he complained that they’d asked him questions he hadn’t been expecting, and yet which were entirely reasonable and pertinent to the role. When we discussed preparation, it became quickly apparent that not only had he done little more than glance at the job advert, he hadn’t even read the comprehensive materials provided in his outplacement programme to help him.
When we are asked to assist job seekers who are struggling to get invited to interview, we frequently find that their CVs are selling them short. The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview – no more, no less. It is your ‘shop window’ and the first look a prospective employer has of your skills, experiences and approach. If they like what they see they will invite you in for a meeting – a job interview. If you are applying for jobs and not getting interviews there is a strong likelihood that your CV is not working for you.
Here are some common mistakes to be aware of:
Finally, after the time and effort you have put into creating your CV, don't forget to check:
If you’re in the market for a new job at the moment, whether through choice or necessity, the chances are you are looking for that new job using the following sources:
You may be quickly successful at finding your new job with these sources, after all, they are advertising real, current vacancies (usually!). However if you can find these job ads, so can thousands of other people, and these people will comprise your competition. So, are there ways to increase your chances of success?
In short, the answer is yes. Experts suggest that when we look for jobs we typically take one of two different approaches:
1. passive job searching (ie., one of the above methods), OR
2. active job searching
In a recent study, 1,000 job searchers were studied to understand the approach they took to job searching and their corresponding success rates. The study found that 25% of the sample adopted active job searching methods, the remaining 75% relied solely on traditional, passive sources. They found:
So, what is active job searching?
Taking an active approach means adopting a different mindset or attitude to job searching, and being targeted and proactive in your activity. The following are typical active job search sources:
Networking usually tops the list of activities people feel least comfortable doing and yet we know that it is the single most effective means of getting a new job when used effectively. Use of business media such as LinkedIn enables you to utilise similar benefit from networking if the face-to-face variety is not for you.
For both active and passive job searchers, networking was reported as the number one most effective source of securing their last job. In order of use, it was down at number 7!
No one method is 100% successful. It therefore makes sense to use a combination of passive and active sources for your job searching. Remember to keep your progress under regular review; if after a period of time you have not been successful, change your approach.
Using on-line, written reference material, questionnaires and worksheets our career transition programmes enable you to make effective progress while benefiting from the ongoing support and guidance of a career coach.
If you could do with help in job searching, get in touch to see how we can help.