Your career journey is important to us. At Mondo, we take a long term view to relationships. We believe in building enduring relationships that add value to your career over the long term – whether that is through finding you a new role, helping you connect, or supporting you in your current role.
The job search process is a good opportunity to reflect and plan – not just for the role that you are trying to acquire, but for how you will manage your performance in your next role. As part of our commitment, we have compiled the following tips, that we hope you will find valuable.
Stage 1: Define your brand
The first step: know yourself
Knowing who you want to work for and what your value are, is the first step in a job search process and even more important than scanning a list of job vacancies. All companies, even in the same industry, are not the same. You are more likely to be highly successful if there is a match between your values and attitudes and the culture and of the company that you work for.
Things that will give you insight into yourself include:
A Career Audit
Reflect back on your career, the roles that you have had and the people / organisations that you have worked for. Where were you most successful and most satisfied? Where least? What do these experiences and reflections teach you about yourself and your needs?
Feedback from previous performance reviews will be helpful in your career audit, and in the other areas referred to below.
A Skills Assessment
Knowing your strengths and which areas need development will not only help you to market yourself to recruiters and prospective employers but will help you understand what roles you would be most successful in and /or which areas you should focus on developing.
Strengths could include your ability to:
• Work in a team
• Work autonomously
• Deal sensitively with people’s feelings
• Troubleshoot complex situations
• Motivate others
• Produce new ideas
• Develop plans
• Negotiate or resolve conflict
• Bring out the best in others
• Lead others
A Personality Profile
There are any number of personality tests, such as Myers Briggs and tests that are proprietary to a particular organisation. What all these test have in common is an approach to measuring your innate or default style and preferences. The insights from these tests can be valuable for assessing the roles and organisations you are likely to be more successful in. For example, if you are generally more of an introvert and like doing things on your own, then roles with high levels of networking and relationship management, such as a Sales career, may not be the best fit.
You would likely have done tests like these before. Some of the dimensions these tests cover include:
• Your leadership style – in what ways do you prefer to deal with people and how will you fit with the interpersonal aspects of a particular occupation.
• Your thinking style – are you task focused, analytical or creative? Are you action focused? Do you like working with complex concepts that require a lot of analyses?
• Your learning style – do you like being an expert in one specialization, or do you prefer broadening your skills?
Your Current Needs and Motivations
To be effective you need to be clear about what opportunities you are seeking:
• Broaden skills
• Balance in your life
• To work in an area which is a “passion” of yours
There are any number of reasons people consider looking for new roles. Having a clear understanding at the beginning of the process on what your motivations and non-negotiables are, will help you assess which roles are appropriate and will also help you during any contract negotiation stage.
The more congruence there is between your skills, style and career aspirations, the more likely you are to be successful in the roles that you have. Choosing a company to work for and a role is more important than just taking the first role that is presented. Being clear about your top five “must-have” career criteria—such as responsibilities, company culture, work-life balance—will make it more likely that every new job will contribute to a positive career progression.
Identify the Companies That You Like
What are the top 10 companies that you would love to work for?
It is surprising how few people who are looking for a role can answer this question when asked. You should know the organisations you would ideally like to work for and why. It will give you a roadmap, so that you can talk to the companies directly and to the recruitment or search consultants that you see.
If you know yourself and your values, you are more likely to find a successful fit, and to be able to appropriately distinguish between available roles that are and are not suitable for you.
Stage 2: Acquiring a new role
In searching for a new role, you have three paths available to you:
1. Directly approach companies that you are interested in working with.
2. Use your contacts and networks – seek advice and let them know your interest.
3. Search job boards and meet with recruiters
To maximize your chances of securing a role you should pursue all three paths. Many roles do not go through recruiters and using your networks will secure you introductions that you may otherwise not have had access to.
A lot of job opportunities are never advertised. It is estimated that 50% of positions are filled through informal networks. Therefore, networking is one of the most powerful techniques available for conducting a job search. A useful tool is to map your circle of influence – map who you know and who they know, and then start to make contact with the people you know.
Put together a list of every contact both personal and professional, such as suppliers, customers, co-workers past and present, and other professionals in your field. You should also include personal contacts, neighbours, accountant, lawyer, doctor, dentist and lecturer at university. Every opportunity should be taken advantage of.
Internet tools like LinkedIn and other social media sites will have their own tips and suggestions of how you can use them to be better networked.
Many people are very generous in the way they will help but it is also worth remembering that those you want to contact may have very full diaries. You do not always have to arrange an hour long appointment to have a coffee and chat. Some people may prefer that you arrange a call by telephone if they agree, it may be respectful to keep the call shorter rather than longer. Studies do show that helping others releases happy hormones.
Make yourself visible socially and professionally. Attend conferences, seminars and trade shows around your chosen industry. Most of your potential employers will probably be there – at the very least, some new contacts. At the end of the conference you usually get a printout of the name, title and organization of everyone who attended – a ready-made contact list. Check the paper or industry magazine for details. Maintain memberships with professional organizations – it gives you contact with your industry and the people in it.
The best way of making new contacts is working on your old contacts. You don’t ring them up and say, “I’m looking for a job or a career”. You ring them up for advice about their area of expertise. When you get a referral, be sure to ask if you can use your contact’s name as an introduction. When you suggest to someone that they can assist you, there is only one chance in three that they will immediately think about how they can do this. Therefore, follow up on your part is essential.
Remember you are not looking for a job; you are interested in exploring opportunities available to someone of your abilities, skills and background in this industry or organization. You need to be very clear about this (you will, of course, consider job offers, but at this stage you are just interested in researching the market place). Aim to generate at least two additional leads from each telephone call. Follow up with a thank you note and if you think it is appropriate, a copy of your CV.
Remember, the job market can be competitive, with sometimes hundreds of candidates applying for roles – so you want the first page to be a strong selling point, rather than one which encourages the reader to place you in the “no” or “maybe” pile. The first page of your resume is like the cover of a book – based on this first page the reader will make an assessment of how excited they are to continue to read your resume. We suggest that your first page is a strong selling proposition, summarizing your key skills, roles and education, with the following 2-3 pages expanding on this, and that your overall resume be no more than 3-4 pages. Contact us for more resume tips and tricks.
Performing at an employment interview is a critical step in any effective selection process.
Interviews are like dates. Prepare physically and mentally to look your best. Don’t ask too many questions, don’t talk about your “ Ex” employer negatively, be positive and do not ever talk about money in the first meeting.
The interviewer is assessing and grading information about your experience, achievements and interests, as well as (of equal importance) your motivation, career aspirations and “fit” for the role. It will help them assess your communication skills and personal style and whether they can see your and others in the business effectively working together. The McKinsey approach is to ask at the end of any interview, “Could I see myself spending 24 hours on a plane with this person!” You should be asking yourself the same question about the employer.
Prepare for your Interview
Find out specific facts about the company, its current products, services, performance and future plans. A number of research publications like Business Who’s Who, the internet and financial press provide current market information.
• Request a candidate brief of the role if possible – this will provide company information and outline the position description and key performance indicators.
• Be prepared to outline the responsibilities of your current role and overview on your current employer’s performance including market share/competitors etc.
• List your achievements in past roles and qualifications, training and development courses undertaken.
• List your questions – eg:
1. Reason the role is available
2. Outline of the company
3. Induction and training
4. Next Steps
Presentation and Rapport
It is important to build rapport with the interviewer so –
• Relax and smile and present good posture
• Maintain eye contact
• Listen – it is essential that you answer the questions asked
• Dress professionally, not casual
• Be punctual, not too early and not late
• Be honest and positive
• Communicate what you enjoy most in your current role and what motivates you
- Communicate your unique selling propositions (USP’s) & strengths
- Explain what motivates and adds passion to your work.
- Don’t ever make derogatory remarks about former employers
- Please don’t enquire about salary / holidays and bonuses at the first interview.
- If you are genuinely interested in the role ask for it.
Stage 3: Performing in your role
When people think of performing in their role, they immediately focus on all the tangible aspects of the role, such as budgets and project delivery dates. This is good, but by itself insufficient to make you successful. We would like to raise a few of the intangible areas for you to keep top of mind.
The skills professionals typically acquire and need as they move from entry roles to Executive roles go from technical skills > strategic skills > emotional and people skills. At the most basic, the skills we need are technical skills – the bits of information, knowledge and processes that make a competent accountant, biochemist or marketer.
As we progress to more senior roles, strategic thinking skills become even more important, and finally, interpersonal skills are the most important. This is easy to understand: the CEO of an organization cannot do every role on their own. They needs to motivate, coach, and manage teams of people in their organization, as well as external stakeholders, such as government, media, customers, suppliers and community.
In many professional roles, interpersonal skills and emotional skills are very important and are key discriminators between people. As you become more experienced in your roles, remember to improve your influencing and interpersonal skills. There are a number of options that allow you to do this, including formal education, mentoring, coaches and role models.
The first person to go when a sports team loses an important game is usually the coach. So if you have teams of people reporting into you, it is important to take time out and think through whether you are an effective team leader, rather than just a manager. Unfortunately, the work of world is such today, that many managers are swamped with chasing budgets, goals and costs, and have little time to sit back and reflect on whether they are getting the best from our people. The people working for you are the best resources you have to ensure you are seen to perform successfully and deliver results.
You should take time out to consider:
• Do I have all the right people in the critical roles? Will I achieve a better outcome if I redeploy my resources?
• Where does this business have to be in 2 years time? In 5 years? Do I have the right talent for tomorrow?
• Am I just managing people or am I leading?
• What is my leadership style? Is it appropriate for the team and for all levels, or do I have to change by situation or group?
• Am I getting the best performance I can from this team? If not, how does our business get more outcomes from the resources that I do have?
• How does the team perceive my leadership style? How is it perceived by other decision makers?
Your internal HR team may have some great processes for working through this and for helping you. If you would prefer the independence or confidence of an external third party, there are organizations that can add value in this area. (Mondo has worked with many organizations on this important area. We understand how important it is and we bring skill from years of experience so that we can help in a way that is efficient and effective).
Coaches and Mentors
The world’s most elite sportsmen and women have coaches and mentors – why wouldn’t you?
Coaching provides individuals with feedback, insight, guidance and direction to enhance potential. Coaching is a structured facilitation process and can help managers achieve specific outcomes through changes in behavior. It aims to unlock potential and build skills, experience and confidence to address gaps and maximize individual effectiveness.
While coaching is primarily about performance and the development of specific skills in a defined time frame, mentoring is more broadly based and intuitive. Mentoring consists of a trusted person acting as a sounding board, encouraging a range of perspectives and providing the benefits of their own experience.
There are a number of mentors and coaches that you can talk to, including Mondo’s Executive Evolution team.
Many people leave marketing themselves till they are seeking a new external role. The best time to build your brand is when you are in a role; it will help you secure your next role, whether internal or external. Remember, it is better to look for a new role with a strong brand to support you.
A good marketing plan would include:
• Know who your target and decision makers are – internal or external, and the role that you want. This will help you focus and position yourself.
• PR yourself: Write industry articles, in which you share a case study or point of view; present at conferences, be seen in the media.
• Join appropriate professional bodies and consider having a role on the organizing committee eg. The Marketing Society.
• Network and make contacts with the right decision makers. Let them know your interests.
• Just as you do for your business, set an annual plan with KPI’s, review them at the end of the year, and set your plan for the following period.
Stage 4: Reflection
Actively managing your own career is vital. In today’s world, lurking around every corner is the possibility of a financial markets meltdown, a merger, takeover or other factor impacting business confidence.
The changing nature of work has resulted in changing concepts of a career including:
• from vertical careers to lateral careers;
• a single lifetime career to multiple careers;
• from employer-managed careers to employee self-managed careers.
The latter is particularly worth noting. Are you managing your career – or are you relying on your organization and HR processes to manage your career goals? The days of “the company will look after me” have gone and career development programs focus on self-development and individual action plans. You are your only career insurance. Career crises can strike at any time. The best way to avoid crises is to monitor personal progress and to re-assess your career and skills on a regular basis.
At the beginning of each year, set your career goals, aspirations, and strategies, with measurable outcomes. In addition to your typical work KPI’s, these should include the intangibles such as building your network, developing your skills as a leader, and being visible in your industry. At the end of each year, review your progress against these, as well as the trends happening in your industry and organization.
Reflect on whether you are on track or whether you sense winds of change and need to adapt your strategy. Your career insurance will be to develop portable skills and to position yourself accordingly inside or outside the organization.
Creating career security means taking complete ownership and responsibility for yourself and your own career management. This takes awareness, diligence in acquiring new skills & learnings, energy, enthusiasm and confidence.