We all have different aspiration and career goals. It pays to take stock time and again so as to know where we are on our career paths and how we can get to where we want to go.
Use these KEY strategies to set yourself on a successful career path.
1. Develop Your Plan Early
Having a goal is a start but building the path to get there is what matters most. So develop a plan to prepare yourself for the position you ultimately want. Depending on your industry, some senior positions will require many relevant years of experience. So it pays to know what it takes and chart your path early.
2. Conscious Gap Determination and Self Improvement
To get to where you want to be, you need to know where you are. Be on the constant look out on where you are and what it takes to get to where you want to go. Be critical of your strengths and weaknesses and reflect on those key areas that need improvement for career advancement. Take charge of your career by preparing yourself constructively for future opportunities.
3. Identify Critical Prerequisites for Career Advancement
Different senior jobs in different industries call for different prerequisites. Experience and scope count for some positions, while specialization is paramount for others. Some industries will need you to demonstrate clear measureable achievements. Be sure to identify what the prerequisites are.
4. Identify which Organization to Work for
No one organization is the same structurally and dynamically. They can also be in different stages of maturity and bear different culture. It pays to know why you want to join a specific organization and what it does to add to your advancement and how you can progress on after your intended stay.
5. Equip yourself with Industry Knowledge and Trends
Whilst you are busy clocking up the must haves along your career journey, be mindful and wary of what is ahead for the industry as a whole. Changes in technology, globalization, politics along with industrial mergers and acquisitions all have big impact on your industry and the trends ahead. Be in the know and be aligned. Join professional bodies and keep abreast of industry insight.
If you have not developed a career plan, it is critical to create one. Use the above to guide you in your planning and set yourself up for success. Get into the discipline of continuously planning, assessing yourself, preparing and working hard towards your goals.
Create your career plan and take charge of your future opportunities!
CVs – The Myth and The Truth
Let us begin by dispelling a myth: the CV is NOT your ticket to a job. The CV can only get you as far as landing that interview for the job you want to be considered for. There are no sure-win CVs. There are only effective CVs that would get you that interview you want!
CVs – The Truth
Essentially, your CV is your marketing tool. The CV, like any other tool, can either be effective or not. When the employer looks at your CV, it helps him / her to pre-qualify if you should be considered for the job. It should effectively and succinctly present your prerequisites to be collectively evaluated by the employer. Thus, an effective CV improves your chances of getting the job interview. So how should an effective CV look like?
Attributes of an Effective CV
~ Be Precise and Succinct
Contrary to what some believe, employers are put off by long CVs. The truth is that a job advertisement can attract high volume of CVs. The person reading the CV has a challenging task, so it helps to keep the information precise and concise. Unless the job requires you to extensively demonstrate expertise in certain core areas or if you are advised by your search consultant to do so, CVs generally should be precise and succinct.
~ Be Relevant
This is why keeping a clear mindset of being relevant at all times is important. You may have a lot to share throughout your career, but don't. Take time to carefully examine what the potential employer has stated as prerequisites and align your presentation of information accordingly. When you highlight areas of which the organizations are looking for, you position yourself as a good fit candidate.
~ Easy to Read and Follow
The CV is the very first platform through which the potential employer gets an insight into your career journey and achievements so it is important to ensure it is easy for him / her to follow through the resume. Do keep in mind to ensure that the overall presentation and structure of information allows for this.
It pays to create a simple single paragraph summary that helps you express the following:
~ Your area of expertise and quality of experience
~ What you think your value add is
~ Share where you are in your career at this point and where you are heading towards
Contents of Your CV:
1. Personal data:
Include your full name, date of birth, address, work hours and after hours contact number, e-mail address, marital status
Indicate your starting and completion dates at each organization. Be sure not to omit the courses/field of your studies.
3. Employment History:
State the start and end dates at each organization. Be sure to also indicate clearly your various appointments, your key responsibilities and achievements.
4. Language skills:
Language skills are a plus in culturally diverse Asia. It will be helpful to indicate the level of proficiency for each of the language.
5. Professional Certification / Accreditation:
List any professional certifications you have and year attained.
6. Professional Body Memberships:
Indicate your professional body memberships. If you have active participation in these bodies, like event or editorial contributions, you should indicate them too.
If you have active participation in any social or community activities or causes, you should share them. It gives the potential employer a fuller picture of who you are.
The Cardinal Rule of CV Writing - Integrity
Nothing is more important in your career than your credibility and integrity. Whilst the CV is your marketing tool, overselling has it dangers. There is a difference between putting yourself in the best light and inflating what you really are. Many a times, you may not get an interview and it is not because your experience is not valued, but because you may not have been perceived to be good a fit with the culture or the work group. It is all about finding the ideal fit between both parties. So go ahead and sell yourself, but always be who you are.
Interview - this is where it all happens…!
The interview is when your prospective employers come to know you as a person, as a prospective incumbent for the job and as a prospective member of the team. The interview offers the platform for the organization to get to know you and evaluate if you are suitable for their organisation and the role.
To succeed in any interview, you would have to do two things very well: Research and Prepare.
Part 1. Research
Research on your Potential Employer
This is a must. You should be fluent with the business dynamics of your potential employer. What are their main business activities? Who are their competitors? What is their market standing? What is their financial standing? What is their future direction? What is their competitive advantage?
It is important to know the organization you are considering a career with. In addition, by researching on your prospective employer, you will develop questions about them which you can further research on or check with them at the interview. The insight you develop from here will be useful in helping you determine how suitable this job is in alignment with your aspirations and where you want to go. Remember that the interview is not just their chance of evaluating you. It is also an opportunity for you to evaluate them.
Look up all these from their websites, company annual reports, independent media reports, industry specific media or even talk to your consultant.
Research on Your Interviewers
If you do know who your interviewers are, it pays to find out more about them. For starters, you should at least know the functional role of your interviewers. Of course, it would be useful too to know about their style of communication and personalities. The above information should be readily available with your consultant.
Part 2. Preparation
Preparing the information you want to share
Given that the time for this exchange is relatively short, you need to be well prepared so that the interviewer can get a good grasp on what they would need to know about you. So you must prepare your sharing in a way that is easy for them to pick up the information they need. A successful interview is one that empowers the interviewers to make an informed and confident decision.
Put yourself in the shoe of your interviewers to examine what they will be keen to know more about you. What information would they need to help them determine your abilities, your fit, your level of motivation to perform on the job and synergy with the team? Run through in your mind on how to best present these information to the interviewer.
Be critical too of where your weaknesses are as a candidate. No candidate is perfect. So it is only realistic that you look out for gaps in your CV, comprehensiveness of experience and related skills. For example, you may have had a very short stay with an ex-employer; be prepared then to present your sharing with regards to this short stint clearly and confidently.
Congratulations! This is what you have worked and prepared so hard for!
You have just received a phone call informing you that the job has been offered to you!!! So what happens from here?
Important to know
A verbal job offer is not binding. It is still contingent on the satisfactory outcome of reference checks.
There are a few things to manage from here like the pay package, benefit entitlements and any other employment conditions. If a recruitment consultant is representing you, the consultant will facilitate the process and help you negotiate a favourable offer while keeping the interest of the client organization in mind. But if you are not represented by a consultant, here is a peek into what are important to note.
Do NOT resign yet!
Do not at this time tender your resignation. A verbal offer is not a formal and official offer. This is the point at which both parties are taking the concrete step forward to negotiate the terms of engagement.
For starters, take a measured approach in expressing your expected salary. You do not have to take the first step to raise this. Let the prospective employer raise this. Be tactful throughout this exercise and state a salary range that would work for you. The rule of thumb is to be realistic. Do your own research to find out what the average pay is in the industry and at your level.
More than Pay
If there is any shortfall in your expectations, it pays to evaluate what other value this job has to offer apart from financial remuneration.
~ Does it offer you perspectives that were not available before?
~ Does it give you the key knowledge and experience that will help to enhance your marketability in your career journey?
~ Does it bring you one level up from where you are?
~ Would such an opportunity arise again, realistically in the short term?
~ Backtrack to what your motivation was in the first place for seeking opportunities.
~ What are the horizontal and vertical prospects beyond this potential job or appointment within the organization?
Still On Salary
Do keep in mind that organizations have a remuneration range it must keep within. After considering the above points and if you are still uncertain about the total compensation package, to enhance the job offer, you may consider discussing the possibility of other forms of rewards like development and training support, flexible working hours or even performance bonuses.
Upon completion of the negotiation process, if you are sure the job is right for you and you are satisfied with the terms, go ahead to accept it.
If you are unsure, request for a few days to consider the job opportunity in its totality and tell them when they can expect to hear from you.
When is the offer final and binding?
The offer is final only when it is given to you in writing, stating all the terms and conditions to the agreement and details of your full package in monetary and non-monetary forms. It will be binding when both parties have signed it.
Reference feedback is an important element in your job search process. Reference feedback usually comes at the tail end of the whole process. Prospective employers are at this point keen to have an insight into how you are like in the actual work environment. Given that the outcome of the reference feedback is crucial in the lead up to the eventual job offer, it pays to pay attention to how you manage this process.
Choosing your Referees
Previous bosses, supervisors or colleagues can become referees. Since the objective is to get an insight into how you are like in the actual work context, it is important that you choose people who have worked closely with you; they are better able to give an account of your abilities, skills and personality. In particular, if your referee is able to share how you overcame certain work situations or have contributed to a significant work/business outcome in the past, this would be invaluable. It is not uncommon too that clients, vendors and even indirect supervisors whom you have previously worked with on projects, could be really good referees.
It is common sense that you would not want to choose someone who you did not work well with. The person conducting the reference check may ultimately ask your referee if she / he would consider working with you again. So do ensure that the referee is indeed someone whom you have had a good work rapport with.
Notifying your Referees
Get in touch with your referee before you give their contact information to your prospective employers. Make sure that you have their latest contact details. As an act of courtesy and respect, it is good to ask them for their permission – if they are agreeable to be your referee.
Preparing your Referees
It is important to give your referees a heads up. If you have not kept in touch with them for a long time, do update them on where you have moved on to since you last worked together. Inform your referees about the nature of the role you are applying for and share with them the job profile briefly. You may want to highlight to your referees key elements of work history and/or achievements you have shared with the prospective employer. In the event the person conducting the reference check verifies your sharing, your referee, having had the heads up, would be able to confirm the information and may even be able to give more insight into these areas.
Referees as part of your Network
Regardless of the outcome of your current job hunt, take the initiative to thank your referees once you know that they have been spoken to. Remember that these people who know you well enough to be your referees are invaluable to you. They form part of your network and you should take the effort to show your appreciation and keep in touch with them.
After you have formalised your acceptance of the offer with your new employer, you would need to resign from your current employer. Resignation can, at times, be an emotional experience. While for most of us, it is a time to move on to a new opportunity we have been working towards, for some, moving on could have been the result of a challenging work experience or other negative push factors. Either way, it is important to leave on a good note and do so professionally.
Here are some suggestions on how to manage the process
Always resign by way of a formal written notice of resignation. Always open the communication by thanking your employer for the opportunity to work together. Refrain from expressing negative feelings on your resignation letter. If asked why you are leaving, it is good to always express the positive elements that lie ahead of you.
In some cases, you would be given an exit interview to better know your reasons for leaving. If there is anything negative at all you want to express, do so constructively and professionally. While doing so, it is good to keep in mind that your objective is to leave on a good note. This is especially so if your industry is small and if talent typically come and go in between the various players. So you may want to be tactful in your sharing. You need not have to be untruthful, but you can choose to be more generic in your sharing.
In some cases where you are departing to join a competitor, do not be surprised if you are asked to leave immediately. If this occurs, it is important that you do not view this negatively. You need to understand this from the perspective that the current company may want to safe guard sensitive information from you which could be made known internally soon. So as to not put all parties in an awkward position, it is common practice for employees to leave immediately if they have resigned to join a competitor organization.
How well you hand over your work is a reflection of your personal integrity and professionalism. Do not spare any effort to ensure a smooth and comprehensive hand over so that your work colleagues would not have negative experience as a result of your departure. Remember that your ex colleagues will eventually form part of your future network.
Establishing when your last day is, is usually very important as your new employer may want you to start as soon as possible. You would need to check on your terms of employment with your current employer with regards to the notice period you need to give. If you cannot oblige to the minimum notice period, openly discuss and negotiate with your employer on what is mutually workable. Whilst your new employer may want you to join them as soon as possible due to business needs, it is important to ensure that you serve adequate notice with your current employer to ensure good and proper hand over of work.
Finally, say your goodbyes and obtain contact details with your colleagues who would eventually become part of your network. Do not underestimate the value of your network. They are as valuable as your work experience.