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Tips from Career Strategist John Lees






John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career strategists.  He has been featured in Metro, Harvard Business Review Online, Psychologies and BBC Woman’s Hour. John also specializes in helping people make difficult decisions as a career and outplacement coach. He has published several bestselling books, including ‘How to Get a Job You’ll Love’ (now in its 7th edition) and Just The Job!

Excerpts from our recent interview with John along with some additional information provided by him offer insight into finding a job you’ll love! To listen in on more of our interviews please visit www.whichcareer.net


1. Practical steps are important!

Start with assumption that you won’t find a perfect “10/10” fit as all jobs require a degree of compromise. But finding a 6 or 7 out of 10 is certainly achievable. Daydreaming about the perfect job can be detrimental to the positive thought process we need to find a job you’ll love. This is oftentimes why the job search is so frustrating as an all or nothing approach holds us back from finding a job that meets our most important criteria while not hitting on a few of the minor things we’re looking for. Holding out for the perfect job leads to a black and white outlook and often leads to settling for a job that isn’t even near this 6 or 7.


2. There is a large informal job market out there.  

The traditional means of job searching are diminishing as fewer jobs are being advertised. Oftentimes jobs are “hidden” and are offered to people who have temped or interned for the employer or have received a word of mouth recommendation from someone in a similar position. Controlling what your network connections say about you is integral to this process and you have control over this by how you portray your skills and characteristics to this group. Looking at the process and each step along the way is more beneficial than focusing solely on the end goal.


3. Transferable Skills

A commonly misunderstood idea about general skills from one position to another. A big mistake is when a candidate puts their CV in or sits for an interview and lists off these skills without putting them in understandable terms for the employer for that specific position. If the skills do not come off as applicable to that particular position then the employer gains no knowledge of why you are a good fit for the position. Oftentimes it is better to offer examples of how you have applied your skills to a particular situation or roadblock rather than just listing them in general terms. It is also very helpful to talk with people in the type of work that you want to do and see how they apply their particular skill set to the position and find out how you can better articulate your skills to the employer.


4. Identifying Past Achievements

Your achievements can range from building a tree house to backpacking in the Himalayas – not just working activities. Now look for the skills and personality traits that you demonstrate. Remember that employers are looking for flexibility, resilience and imagination, as well as traditional skills and know-how. Try to say something user friendly and interesting about your main qualification. A subject title is rarely helpful to an employer. A recruiter makes assumptions about the usefulness of your qualification unless you specifically state what you most enjoyed about it, what special projects you undertook and what you got out of it.


5. Put All the Pieces Together

Look at yourself and see your motivation and your internal drive. Don’t spend too much time on this stage but long enough to find how to convey your best skills in a relevant manner for the field you want to work in. The next step is to take a general look at the field and see what is out there and to get the viewpoint of those working in the field to get a view from behind the frontline to see if the type of work really suits the motivation that you have identified. Finally focus your job search activity onto specific target organizations and keep track of your inroads into contact groups within the organization.


This blog is brought to you by the I Am Group.  We work with charities to provide networking and learning events and help charities and not-for-profit organisations recruit the best staff.  You can find out more about us at www.iamenterprises.co.uk and to join our monthly networking events visit www.monthlycharitynetworking.eventbrite.co.uk.  

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