And to speak glowingly of how much I have enjoyed our sessions together.
At The Career Consultancy, we don’t usually do private work, but I have had my arm twisted by some friends on a few occasions and so I agreed to help a couple of executives this year in a private capacity.
One of them commented about how valuable our support had been and this has led me to the topic of this blog.
As the crazy Christmas period approaches, if you look back over the year, it might be worth you thinking about the benefits of improving your awareness, skill level and confidence when it comes to managing your career. You can complete some of this work by reading/researching topics via the internet. I always recommend the following site for those who prefer to learn this way: www.cdm.uwaterloo.ca.
But sometimes, there’s just no substitute for sitting across from someone who is a true career expert. What we cover in a typical session is not rocket science, but I’ve never had anyone say to me: “You didn’t need to tell me that – I already knew it.”
Here’s what we enjoy about our work and five reasons that you might want to seek out a good Career Consultant.
1. Permission to dream.
It’s not our job to tell people what to do or not to do. Their lives and plans are theirs. It helps that we have an excellent knowledge of the current market place but that’s not enough. The difference is that our team here are all essentially supportive, creative, problem solvers. We have an abundance approach and help people expand the possibilities in front of them.
2. First Class Technical Job Search advice
I’ve written in separate blogs about the work we do to help people use Networking (see Smashed Knees, Resilience and Networking) to uncover roles in the hidden job market. Lately, I’ve also been struck by the significant difference we have made to the Application Letters our clients craft for an advertised role. The original version they bring to us is generally “thin” or else too long and boring (see Well Rounded is Better than Thin for a Winning Application Letter).
Because we never know whose desk this letter will land on, we make no assumptions and just presume that this particular employer uses the letter as a critical tool to assess applicants. With our eagle eye on board, our clients craft a persuasive document that also paints a picture of WHY they are passionately interested in the role.
3. The “Wow” résumé
Our overall aim is to swing the balance of power towards the candidate in the job search process. And the résumé is where we start. In previous blogs, I’ve given advice about how to improve this important document (see "Wow" Resume Part 2: Do You Have a Hitler or Churchill Resume?). Frankly, most people’s résumés are truly awful. Even if they are well laid out and contain evidence-based content, I rarely find a résumé that POSITIONS the individual at the appropriate level of complexity and seniority.
Someone asked me this year if I was a résumé-Nazi and I confessed that I was. I check everyone’s résumé before they use it out in the marketplace, even if I was not the consultant who worked with the person. I can’t bear for them to send something out that is half-baked, given we have the ability to help them make it so much better.
4. Winning Interview Skills
Last week, I worked with an Executive and after 30 minutes or so of practice, it was clear that she didn’t need any more help. She understood how to tell interesting, evidence-based stories that would wow any prospective employer. Sadly, this is all too rare. Generally, we need to work with someone for 3-4 hours to ensure that they excel in this critical area.
I call it the Superman approach – we train people to leap over tall buildings in a single bound i.e. to perform at an exceptional level. We want the prospective employer to think: “Wow, what are we going to have to do get them to come and work for us?”
Wherever the performance gap is, we step in. It may be poor body language, overly stiff and formal language, or just unconvincing answers to the interview questions. A lovely by-product from my point of view is that we almost always see the person’s confidence soar. I say to them that it is probably the only time in their life that someone will force them to tell interesting stories about how wonderful they are!
5. Salary Negotiation Skills
This is a micro but important area and it’s one that people find fascinating. We cover all bases including what to consider in the employment contract. We train people in how to get what they want whilst leaving the new employer thinking that it was “Win Win”.
I can always remember one of the Manufacturing Managers I worked with at Mattel in Malaysia negotiating an 80% increase in his salary, as part of an internal promotion. (I never did ask whether the Mattel management team were as happy about that as I was).
I find that women in particular need a great deal of support in this area, as they traditionally shy away from what they may fear as aggressive behaviour. We don’t coach greed, just finding out your worth in the current market and making sure that you get it.
January is a good time for many things – you’re back at work but not quite in the normal swing of things. So, my advice is to check out a good Career Consultant, using LinkedIn for example, and hand over some of your hard-earned cash. It will be more than worth it!
aBOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert. She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's CareerOne, as well as in online publications such as news.com.au, thenewdaily.com.au and womensagenda.com.au