Network like a Pro

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Networking is daunting, for sure, especially the first time you go solo. Whether you’ve been roped in to attend an event on behalf of work, been coerced by a friend, want to meet new people or need to build your connections, it does get easier the more practise you have. You don’t have to attend a ‘networking event’ as such, to network, establish connections and land yourself a dream job. From merely chatting to the girl sat next to you at the nail bar, on a night out or within a work situation, there are so many benefits of networking.

It has certainly helped push me out of my comfort zone, helped improve my small talk, presentation skills and increased my confidence. Big glasses of wine also make networking events much more bearable!

Here’s how to master the art of small talk, business card swapping and networking like a pro…

Business cards & LinkedIn

Bring your business cards with you and have LinkedIn at the ready. When swapping business cards with connections you’ve made, remember that quality is better than quantity. Take the extra effort to touch base after the event with a quite note to show your enthusiasm and gratitude. By remembering to connect and message your newly made contact in a friendly and professional manner could lead to you landing your dream job!

Maximise your time

Aim to arrive at the event early, allowing time to quickly freshen up and regain composure. Stay till the end too, if you can. This is a great way to mingle with guests while it’s not too busy and to introduce yourself and chat to the hosts and staff. Don’t stick with the first person you meet, and don’t feel bad about moving to another person or group. It’s important to meet as many people as possible, so make sure you work the room, after politely excusing yourself. If you know in advance who is attending, you can research and prioritise speaking to them.

Start the conversation

Most people don’t enjoy networking events. Many individuals will be nervous, just like you. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there by saying hello to everyone, initiating conversations and being bold enough to join in with groups of people. If you are shy, speak to the organisers who can introduce you to people who are similar to you, or position yourself near the bar/food so that people can come to you.

Confidence

Be confident in yourself. Smile, have a good firm handshake and be comfortable talking about yourself, your job, inspirations and aspirations. Also, be inquisitive about the people you meet, open minded and listen to their stories. Everyone you meet should serve to educate, motivate, challenge and surprise you. You can learn something from everyday encounters with people. Today, whilst volunteering, I heard an incredible story by a lovely lady who was recently held at knife point in her own home, by an intruder and how she coped. It’s so easy these days to stare at your phone and pretend there’s something more interesting, in situations such as networking. However, by putting your phone away, opening up yourself to the people around you and taking the time to listen, appreciate and be emphatic – wonderful energy can be created.

I have attended countless blogging events, networking events and have attended events or occasions solo. I often find it’s better going solo as sometimes, bringing a friend can limit you. Take the leap and challenge yourself to attend some events solo. Attending blogging events have made me meet incredible friends, travelling solo has seriously improved my confidence and attending a networking event landed me an interview!

I hope you enjoyed reading,

Love Career Girl

xo

Create Goals & Smash them

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When the clock struck midnight, turning 2016 to 2017, I bet you reflected on the year past, the ups the downs, the aspirations, the regrets and wanted to make this year your year, right?

If you’re like me, you would have written or voiced all the things you want to learn and achieve this year and master them. But how many of those goals did you stick too? How many resolutions have you achieved and ticked off your list? I’m getting ahead of myself, I know, the year still has 2 months to go before 2018 (a very scary thought as I edge closer and closer to 24!) but time can easily escape us. Those New Years resolutions can seem like a lifetime away and an impossible feat to accomplish but, creating goals and smashing them can be done!

Write down your goals

As I’ve mentioned before, writing down your goals ensures they are much more likely to be achieved than simply voicing them. Each quarter I compile my top five fitness, lifestyle and career goals, which are tick box and achievable. Recently, one of my fitness goals was to master the crow in yoga, and I’m so nearly there!

Vision board

Taking inspiration from Sophie Shohet, it’s so important to visualise your goals as they will seem a lot more achievable. Whether that’s posting a clip of some shoes you love, your dream car, or, the next holiday you want to take, will help inspire and motivate you to take the necessary steps to achieve your plans.

The fox that chases two rabbits catches neither, stay focused. 

Focus on you

With insta-worthy unrealistic imagery filling our daily lives, it’s easy to become blind-sighted by everyone else’s incredible achievements. But realise that no one posts the down days, the teary eyes, or broadcasts the break-ups, the lost jobs or promotes the ugly times. It can become so easy to assume that everyone’s lives are better than yours. That others are happier than you, but everyone has their demons, their struggles and they’re hiccups. It’s all relative. It’s vital to look out rather an introspect. This is your life, use all the negative energy and experience. and turn it into the best thing that ever happened.

Visualise the end goal

The things that are happening in your life right now are just moments in time. You don’t know what the future holds and things can change way beyond your plans allow for. Rome wasn’t built in a day! So take time to appreciate the journey of reaching your goals, exploring you, and the world around you, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Whilst it’s important to visualise your end goal, don’t be afraid to be flexible on the time you reach it.

Be realistic

There are goals in the back of my mind which I know full well can’t be achieved now, or even next year. To save yourself from working towards unachievable goals and setting yourself up for failure, be realistic and think about the goal requirements. Think to yourself, realistically, can it be achieved; what steps do you need to take to ensure it happens, and are other people or processes necessary for it to be fulfilled? Are there any upcoming roadblocks or things that could delay the process? Smaller, tangible steps will help you reach your goals quicker than trying to achieve the unachievable.

Once your easy, tick-box goals are set out, check back often and be sure to reward yourself for smashing them! See what you could achieve if you go and push yourself…

How do you stay motivated? I would love to hear in the comments below,

Love Career Girl.

Redundancy Warning Signs

pexels-photo-346740It’s been over two years since I was made redundant. A lot has changed since then and I’m now working in a sector which I absolutely love. At the time however, it was not a pleasant period. I was at my lowest, already feeling miserable as I was constantly failing my driving test. My gut was telling me at the time that something wasn’t right, but I kept convincing myself of other things. I remember it was a normal working day when I was told in the morning that I was to be made redundant and it’s a strange mix of emotions.

Hearing those words, I just couldn’t face carrying on at work. The news hit me smack in the face. I instantly felt emotionally drained. I had to force myself to contain the tears at work and later, as I was on public transport, until I arrived to the safety of my home where I just cried, and cried, and cried.

After a day of wallowing in my sorrow (not a massive fan of showing my emotions, I prefer to bottle things up!) I decided to re-think a lot of my goals, follow my dreams and bounce back. A week later, with a few interviews lined up, I felt a lot more myself. Eventually I built up my confidence, but losing your job is a frighting experience.

How can you spot the signs and move on before it’s too late? Based on my experience, here’s some warning signs and red flags….

The company is making a loss

If the company is making a severe loss or is in a significant amount of debt, then it;s inevitable that your boss will want to make cost savings and re-adjust budgets. This could be instigating a hiring freeze, stagnating wages, postponing company perks, the list goes on.

Promises aren’t kept

I was promised training and on the job experience, a new laptop, and a pay rise for hard work, all in exchange for an initial low wage. What I received instead was lies, non of the above, and having to lug my laptop to and from work. It’s heart-breaking when you are so eager to learn and work and your dreams are crushed by the reality of a broken promise.

No contract

This is a huge warning sign. Never receiving a signed contract from either party isn’t best practise and doesn’t assure job security. No signed contract shows the company has no commitment to you and can get rid of you at the drop of a hat.

No real job title or job function

I was increasingly being left to fend for myself in the office, even within my first month. It was soul destroying not being given enough work to do. The cognitive dissonance experienced of having a fancy job title which isn’t reflective of your actual day to day activities and responsibilities is frustrating. In this instance I was clearly hired for a role which didn’t really exist, nor was there the scope of work to conduct, especially considering the lack of investment in training and support received. If you are often left alone in the office and spend most afternoons twiddling your thumbs, there’s no place for you.

Reduced contact time with your boss

All these points could be due to other factors, but rarely are, and should be addressed or resolved with your boss. If your boss is acting shady, being elusive and non-committal, it’s time to update you credentials and start job hunting.

With reflection, this was possibly one of the best things that could have happened to me. It allowed me to gain knowledge and experience, re-focus on cementing a career in marketing and I used the redundancy money to pay for a course which further added to my skill set. It was a blessing in disguise, especially when you power on with a positive outlook despite the negative experience.

Have you lost your job? How did you cope and bounce back?

I would love to hear your experience in the comments,

Love Career Giril

What you should consider in your career

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I recently conducted a poll on my Twitter, not the best sample size but interesting non the less, so thank you to all my followers who participated. It’s fascinating to see the results on what people prioritise when job hunting or deciding if a job is beneficial.

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It’s important to follow your heart, but listen to your head too. Your friends may think money is paramount in a new job or career, yet, you may value having a great boss as being just as important. Based on my experiences I like to look at the big picture and see what would benefit me now, and in 5 years time…

Money

Money is incredibly important and unfortunately, it kinda does make the world go around.

It’s important to know your market value. Cost and worth are very different things. All managers and boards want a return on investment, spending the least possible on a new hire. Therefore, if you offer your services too low, it can be harder to get a raise later. When you go job-hunting, it’s vital to do your research on the average salary your role usually pays. Look at the likes of Glassdoor and ask around, as this will establish where you are in terms of salary expectations. Pay can fluctuate based on a multitude of scenarios, such as, location, size of company and other work benefits.

Many people become blind-sighted by London or other cities as they pay more, but fail to realise that the cost of living often increases too! Sometimes roles outside of the bigger cities in reality pay more, with higher chances of better career progression. Always weigh your options against your prioritises now and in the future. Be careful not to sell yourself too short by accepting a salary lower than the going rate, just because you are desperate to be hired. But, go easy on demanding 30k before you’ve walked into the interview, as this can deter employers from hiring you. If you are already in a role, this research and knowledge can help you in negotiating a promotion or raise.

Your Boss

“When analysing the monster, be sure not to become the monster. And, when looking into the abyss, the abyss looks back at you”

I read this quote in “Talking with Psychopaths” by Christopher Berry Dee, but relevant here also. When your future boss interviews you, you should also interview them. You’re going to be working for them for approx. 8 hours everyday. Ask questions, query their intentions, seek their knowledge, insight and grill them. Find out what makes them tick, their goals and expectations of you now and in 6 months time. Find out how they treat their existing staff too, as this speaks volumes.

You must determine if they want to coach you or boss and work you to the bone. Will they mentor and develop you, treat you as an equal, or a piece of shit on the bottom of their shoe. A boss should value you, push you, help you, support you and train you. If they don’t? Leave.

Company Culture

This essentially covers the values, attitudes, support network, ethos and mantra of a company as a whole. It’s often insidious and hard to pin down, but can seriously take a toll on well-being and health. Is there a blame-culture? Do people socialise outside of office hours, collaborate, praise and support one another? Or or they back-stabbing and bitchy?

The list can go on but depending on the boss’s management style, training practises and overall attitude, it can often lead to high staff turnover. Being thrown in at the deep end instead of being properly trained, lack of career progression and no support network can be checked by observing how content the existing staff are. How can you spot this? By asking what their take on holidays, days off and dealing with staff complaints is. What training and career progression opportunities are on offer, to name but a few. But it’s usually a gut feeling more than anything.

Career Progression

It’s great if you can hit the ground running on your first day, but it can be a challenging and stressful period starting a new job. Nerves can play havoc, so it’s essential to have a support network, the opportunity to learn and grow at your own pace and to be able to make mistakes and learn from them. If you are expected to do a job that is outside of your remittance, don’t be afraid to ask for help, training or to go on a course to improve your knowledge and experience. If you are over-worked or dying to take on more work and responsibility, only you can voice it. Push for improvement and appraisals to see what areas you need to develop. Not investing in you, can in the long run be extremely costly for the company. Not promoting you and keeping you in the same role isn’t beneficial to you, your boss or the company either.

Often, the reason people leave a job or career is because of the same old line, feeling overworked and undervalued.

What do you think is most important? I’ve love to hear in the comments below…

Love Career Girl

 

Stress less

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We all lead busy lives. I often feel like the sector I work in makes me feel like I’m running on a tread mill and can’t stop or get off. It’s partly why I love my job, I feel like you have to constantly learn, work and strive to improve your knowledge and skill-set. I aim to work smart, I gym, I socialise, try to blog, read, etc…. but often feel frazzled. A brunch date with a dear friend sided with me on society’s need for everyone to promote just how busy they are 24/7. I can’t be alone in thinking that if you have a day to spare, a lazy day with few plans, it’s seen as odd. Society looks down on you.

It’s as if we pride ourselves on being constantly busy, constantly on the move and constantly switched on. It’s almost a luxury these days to turn your phone off and just relax, be in the moment and take time out to re-charge our batteries.

So, for every Career Girl chasing her dream of getting ahead and becoming successful, there is a thin line between pushing yourself and burning out. It’s not good to overwork yourself to exhaustion. It’s not good for your health, mental or physical, or your soul, especially considering stress can exacerbate just about any illness and yet there are a few simple inexpensive things you can easily fit into your life to stress less, be more healthy and happy in your daily life!

Switch off

I am the worst at this. The first thing I check once I have turned my alarm off is Twitter. On my bus to work I catch up on the latest blogs, news and PR & marketing happenings. I scroll through every social media app I have, again and again. I stare at a screen all day. Come home and am glued to Netflix. Which is why I like to have ‘down days’ or even weekends where I like to not look at a screen and I turn off all devices. Initially, it’s hard to get used to as we are all so accustomed to checking our phones, it’s like we can’t survive without them, right? Trust me, this is great for calming the mind without notifications distracting you. One of the best decisions I made was deleting Facebook – much to the horror of friends!

Exercise

As Elle Woods would say, endorphin’s make you happy. Scientifically proven, exercise has always helped me improve my concentration, memory and has significantly improved my stress levels. It’s important to find a workout or activity you love, and many places offer free Yoga to try if you don’t want to commit. I despise running and working out at the gym, so opt for Yoga, Hiit, circuits, Spin and boxing classes.

Mediate

There is no need to chant, unless you want to. I was sceptical at first but found Yoga, vinyasa flow, to work wonders on my aches and pains and mental well-being. It teaches you to breath deeply, inhale and exhale through the nose and to be in the moment. It really helps me clear my mind whilst maintaining my flexibility. Even just sitting peacefully and taking a few breaths is sufficient – there are many apps available to help focus the mind and relax.

Work smarter

I find it funny when people boast about how many extra hours they put in at work. In reality, I feel this is more a reflection of how poorly one manages their workload. If you work efficiently, manage your workload, organise and work smarter, not harder, you achieve so much more, and no need to clock extra hours! Prepare the day before, with to do lists, prioritising tasks and thinking how best to use your time can benefit you on the day. I learnt whilst reading Robert Caldini’s book ‘Persuasion techniques’, that writing your goals on paper ensure you are much more likely to stick to it and fulfil it, than just verbally stating you’ll complete a task.

Challenge yourself & treat yourself!

We all work hard, but when was the last time you selfishly treated yourself? Don’t be afraid to spend your hard earned money on yourself. Treat yourself to a spa day, that nice top, a bath bomb, a holiday or take yourself out to dinner. It’s important to take time out to congratulate yourself, your body and mind because our bodies are often put to extremes, we are all works of extraordinary machinery. We need to worship ourselves as it’s so easy to take life and our bodies for granted! It’s important to find those moments, whether it’s 24 minutes or 24 hours to relax and de-stress fully and unapologetically.

Go stress less,

Love Career Girl xoxo

How to deal with an Office Bully

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The Office Bully comes in many different forms. From the slimy snake that steals your sales, to the office gossip who creates rumours behind your back, to the jealous, incompetent one, who’ll do everything in their power to get you fired. And, if you are a new graduate and naïve to the game, or an experienced soul, at some point in your life, whether you like it or not, you’ll come across at least one of the above.  No matter if you’re dealing with subtle Sandy or backstabbing, bitchy, Becky, there are things you can do to protect yourself and succeed despite the surrounding negative vibes.

If you think you are dealing with an Office Bully there are a multitude of options to stay ahead of the game.

Speak Up

Hopefully, there is someone in the organisation you work for who you feel comfortable enough to divulge details of your office bully’s actions. It could be a fellow co-worker, or, preferably HR. Think hard about what the office bully has done, or said, or even what they haven’t said. Have they purposely left you out of an important email? Have they taken credit for your hard work? Have they talked down to you or purposely tried to intimidate you? All these little things can accumulate easily and quickly, and, if you are not careful, can spiral out of control. It’s important to try and spot it and be aware of it in the early stages. Once you have started the process of verbally documenting the issues, it will be easier to voice a formal complaint later down the line, if you so wish.

Log It

Unless you have evidence, it’s often just your word against theirs; which is why it is so important to build a network of trust and communication. It’s no doubt a tricky, awkward situation, but it’s paramount to try and gain as much evidence as possible. Keep a log. Every backhanded comment, passive aggressive attitude or general patronising that’s come your way needs to be noted and logged. Who said it? When? How? Did anyone else hear it? If the above is committed via emails or texts, take screenshots. Try and be as neutral as possible.

Rise above it

Aggravating the situation doesn’t help and can often make things worse. You may want to give as good as you get, but try and stay calm, neutral and above all, professional. At the end of the day, you are there to work. So work your arse off and focus on doing well. Use that negative energy and turn into positive energy to propel you forward. Work harder then you’ve worked. Things do get better. Rise above it. Be mature. People want to see you do well, never better than them. Pay close attention to those who don’t praise you or congratulate you on your achievements; who instead will try and undermine and stifle your accomplishments. You are so much better. So succeed.

Success is the best revenge, right?

I hope you enjoyed this post, if you have ever experienced an Office Bully, either a co-worker or boss do, let me know. How did you cope? And what advice would you give?

Good Luck!

 

Love Career Girl xo

Hair Regime feat: Natural World

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Ever feel like changing up your hair? That’s exactly what’ll I’ll be doing soon, opting for Baleyage. Well that’s the plan. Like most people wanting what they can’t have, I’ve always wanted to have blond hair. I’ve only ever had my hair dyed once before, having pink tips at the end. It’s fun to experiment right?

What isn’t so fun is experimenting and having to trial and test so many various hair products to find ones that actually do what they promote on the box. My hair, although thick and voluminous, is a pain to style and straighten properly due to its natural kink. Oh and did I mention how quickly it can frizz up in the humidity?!

I have recently managed to tame my hair, having a new haircut helped but also sticking to a fairly good hair regime has made my hair shine more, feel glossy and neat. I thought I would share with you the few things I use as they have been an absolute game changer. So listen up…

Natural World: Charcoal & Mint*

After reviewing Natural World’s Argan Oil range, of which I absolutely loved, I was lucky enough to have been sent their Charcoal and Mint Shampoo & Conditioner, thanks to the lovely PR! I gave it a try… uh-mazing. If only you could smell the products. They are so refreshing and perfect for summer, revitalising my dull hair instantly. Infused with Activated Charcoal & Certified Organic Mint, with Rosemary, Lemongrass, Orange & Ylang Ylang essential oils; these products are 95% derived from natural products. They are also pretty affordable, available Tesco. Once I’ve finished with these bottles I’ll no doubt be stocking up.

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Aquis hair towel & Ojon rare blend oil

The Aquis hairwrap and the Ojon Oil were products found in a Sheerluxe & Latest in beauty edit box, my review here. I have used hair oils in the past, but have found this one to be the best. It’s not the cheapest but then again, it lasts ages, as you only need a pea size amount. I apply a few drops of the oil onto my hands, rub and then rough up my hair, through the tips and blow dry. Works a treat. And, forget drying your hair with your normal towel, invest in this innovative Aquis hair wrap, designed to dry your hair quickly, without damaging hair.

What are the hair products you swear by?

Love Career Girl

XO

 

PS – This item was gifted to me for promotional purposes, thoughts are all mine!