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

The Redundancy Rollercoaster

crew-56831.jpgAt 22 years young, the one thing I never anticipated, happened to me. One Friday morning I was made redundant. I think it was amazing to  my colleague and me that I didn’t cry when told! Instead, I calmly left and proceeded to wander aimlessly, like a zombie, in disbelief wondering what the hell I was going to do. It’s funny, it’s the situation you think you’ll never find yourself in. It happens in movies, to other people, but me?!

After allowing myself one day to wallow in sadness and cry my eyes out, I decided to set to and find another job. For someone who has always worked since the age of 14, to be out of work with no income, mounting debt and bills, was pretty scary! One of the first things I did when I arrived back home was hit Google. I stumbled upon an article which really sums up the surreal Rollercoaster emotions of Redundancy. This blog post is my experience of it, how to deal with it, and how to bounce back!

Shock 

Initially, my first response wasn’t actually to cry. Instead, I was completely stunned. Fortunately, it didn’t come as a massive shock, (read my Redundancy Warning Signs – up soon!) due to a multitude of reasons; I had a hunch it would happen.

Anger

I was surprisingly furious with everyone… What did I do to deserve this? Why me? I was devastated. Did I deserve to be treated like this?! In fact, I was so angry that I often lashed out at the ones who love me the most, and were there for me when I was sad. I turned really ugly towards my parents, who have always had my back.

Depression

Right now, I’m alright. I’ve had a lot of time to relax, think and pursue what I want, and I’m happy. At the time, it was a completely different story. People offer kind words like ‘when one door closes, another opens,’ which is lovely. However, in no way does it compensate for how borderline depressing it is. Going back to the drawing board of applying for jobs, interviews and being rejected is no joke! I felt a complete failure, my confidence and outlook on life was rock bottom. I put on a brave face to friends and family, often laughing about the shitty situation. However, deep down, I was upset. I had many sleepless nights and cried an awful lot. Also, because I was in this state, I refused to socialise with friends which, with hindsight, was probably counter-productive. For days on end I would suddenly become so teary, so wobbly and, because I was so ashamed about the situation, I didn’t really speak to a lot of my friends about it. Sounds terribly selfish, but the last thing I wanted to hear was how amazing their jobs were when I no longer had one. It was an incredibly stressful time!

Relief

I mentioned my situation to friends, family and strangers too, and they have all been surprisingly encouraging. Some gave me hope that this could be a blessing in disguise, giving me the freedom to pursue what I really want, with the knowledge and experience that I have gained thus far. Others have offered their own experiences of redundancy, how they dealt with it, and, that sometimes it propels you into something better.

I will never forgot that feeling of hopelessness, being unemployed is a horrible predicament to find yourself in. I am a true believer in trusting the universe. Sometimes it takes extremes like this to re-evaluate your life, focus on what you want, what benefits, excites and challenges you, as that is what you should pursue. A quote from Em Sheldons‘ blog, “Rainy days make flowers” is scrawled on a post it note above my desk, which really helped motivate me. Things do work out for the best, and if it hasn’t yet, there’s still time.

Have you ever lost your job or been made redundant? How did you cope? Can you relate to my experience? Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments below.

Love Career Girl

xoxo

My Gym Gear Feat. Daisy&Co

 

Now that I drive, you can find me hitting the gym 4 times a week, whether it be a relaxing yoga and tai chi session or a high intensity boxing class! And now, more than ever, I seem to live in gym attire, so it’s massively important I have clothes which fit, are functional for sweaty sessions, and, of course, make me look and feel great!

Following on from my ‘dress to impress & dress for success’ post with work-wear, I strongly feel it is paramount to wear whatever makes you feel not only comfortable, but good about yourself too. How can you push yourself and achieve your personal best, if you’re wearing ill-fitting see through leggings and a sports bra that offers no support?!

If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting the best that’s out there, but if not, I highly recommend H&M gym wear. Considering the price, they are surprisingly good, offering sweat-wicking running tops for approx. £14!

I’m always keen to try new gym gear and, recently, was given the opportunity to test out Daisy & Co London‘s latest range. Their new active brand was launched earlier this year I believe. New to the game, they have black sportswear with their logo, and outrageously bright purple options too. They are incredibly high quality and are lovely and soft against the skin.

They arrived in the post and honestly, first impressions were that both items would be too big for me. I’m normally a size xs and these looked huge! However, I was wrong. After trying both on, I realised that the fabric was super soft and high stretch, perfect for sweaty hot yoga or even HIIT classes. The gorgeous detailing on the back of the black sports bra allows for extra movement, which isn’t always apparent in other brands. Often, most sports bras are rigid and thus, limits your movements. I tested these out last week and was really impressed by them!

The purple top isn’t something I would normally opt for, as I tend to go for blacks and greys at the gym, but they go really well with an all black outfit. They would be perfect for summer days, especially as I often do yoga outside when it’s warmer & sunnier!

What I’m wearing: 

Top: Daisy Pansy Print Keyhole Vest

Sports bra: Black Cross back

Leggings: Lululemon Athletic 

Trainers: Asics from Sweaty Betty

 

What brands do you wear to the gym? I hope you enjoyed this post & let me know what you think in the comments!

Love Career Girl

 

xo

 

PS items marked with * were gifted for promotional purposes yet opinions are definitely mine! 

 

 

Dealing With Setbacks – Failed Driving Test

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Guess who was the butt of jokes from both friends & family?! After multiple failed attempts, a hell of a lot of money spent, numerous tears shed and many setbacks, I have finally passed!

Why on earth did it take you so long?! Well, I wanted to focus on A levels and my degree, so postponed learning to drive until I was more settled, with fewer distractions. Summer 2015 I began my search for driving instructors and stumbled upon Darren’s* website. I was blown away by the incredible ratings, many of which were given by people I knew. Although expensive, I decided to go ahead as the reviews were so good. I mean, you get what you pay for, right? I was wrong.

The first Lesson

Of course, like many inexperienced learner drivers, I was awful! Like walking, it is paramount to learn the basics before you can run. My first lesson involved driving on national speed limit roads, with roundabouts etc. I was thrown in at the deep end, which isn’t ideal! That first lesson, many expletives were directed at me. I swerved, stalled, cried and nearly had numerous accidents. It didn’t really get much better after that.

Once, with tears streaming down my cheeks, blurry eyed, borderline hyperventilating, I raced at break neck speed up to a very busy roundabout. I managed to hesitate, then stall spectacularly, right in the middle of traffic, causing many cars to screech to an abrupt halt to miss hitting me. My rather po faced examiner was far from impressed!

Failure isn’t an option

Third time lucky? I wish. After driving so well I was certain I had passed, and overcome with emotion I managed to exceed the speed limit in the last minute and failed, of course…

I improved marginally but was told, repeatedly, just how fabulous a driver I was and how I should pass my test in no time. My poor dad also gave me lessons (which I don’t advise, purely because you can fall into bad habits, not adhering to ‘test’ conditions!) where I picked up conflicting information and methods of doing things, eg. parking! So, after a few months of appalling driving, I was rushed into a driving test which of course I failed MAGNIFICENTLY! The funny thing was, although I knew deep down I wasn’t ready and with parents concerned that I wasn’t up to standard, I didn’t think to cancel it. When you are repeatedly told how great a driver you are, you start to believe it!

Trust Your Gut

I had more driving tests, more failures, more shouting, swearing and conflicting advice from Darren, my driving instructor. Darren was bad tempered, rude, impatient and often made me cry. The perfect example really of how not to teach pupils. My driving lessons always started late. He was incredibly unreliable. On one test day, he turned up 30 mins late, cutting short my practise time beforehand. On another occasion I told him 2 months in advance I had found a test date, which he agreed to & gave me the appropriate lessons. Then, a week before, Darren states he’s double booked. Because of staff shortages and increased demand, I had to postpone my driving test for 3 months. Pissed off? Yeah. By this point I was more than test ready.

Perfect driver & rock bottom self-esteem

6 months later I was a perfectly good driver. However, much to my annoyance, nerves got the better of me, ensuring I made mistakes I would never normally make! Psychologically, I associated that test centre with negative thoughts of failure. I even contemplated hypnotherapy!

New driving instructor, different test centre & positive outlook!

I decided I needed a change pronto. Armed with a friend’s recommendation, I found a new driving instructor, Patrick* who was an absolute breath of fresh air! He retaught me a few things, instantly put me at ease, knew my confidence was rock bottom but quickly and effectively built it back up! I failed again in a different test centre due to nerves. I was in a state; I cried halfway through the test, but my driving was near perfect! A month later, I passed!

I was inspired to write my experience after reading oxjane – who failed 7 times. The thoughts and emotions she expressed, the sadness and the frustration really propelled me to carry on. It motivated me because, believe me… I was very close to giving up! Living where I live, transport links aren’t the best. The lack of freedom meant it was so much harder to organise socialising with friends, going to the gym and being spontaneous!

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and advice in the comments below.

Love Career Girl!

xoxo

Personal Branding

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You know what the greatest brand in the world is?! That’s right… YOU!!

Graduate, job seeker, or industry expert going through a career change, although there may be a multitude of jobs out there, it’s not always easy to land that dream job. As some of you know, I graduated class of 2015, yet since then, I have been trying to forge a career. I find the whole process of job hunting possibly the most frustrating! Specifically, applying for roles online and having to almost write your whole life story, how much of a superstar you are and how amazing you’d be at the role; to then receive an automated thank you email super disheartening. Not cool.

Reject Online Job Hunting

I am not a fan of time consuming job applications and screening processes that are often used today. I think there is a massive over reliance on technology. Okay I digress. Back to personal branding!

Job hunting is hard but if you attack at all angles, you will have a much better success rate. Apply for jobs. Send emails. Network. Optimise your Linkedin & Google yourself. Competition is fierce and especially with social media and word of mouth, why not market yourself?!

Invest in Yourself

You may have the best qualifications, experience and be super likeable, but so are many other people. Which is why it’s so important to play to your strengths and use whatever skill or asset you have to your advantage. Good at Art or Photography? Create a portfolio. Great at Graphics? Build your own website. Love writing? Start a blog. You get the picture. Think of yourself as any other brand and project yourself in the best light possible. Now more than ever your online presence matters. Employers can and often will Google you and your social media profiles. If you want to keep social media private, double check all of your privacy settings to ensure there are no incriminating or embarrassing photos etc. Otherwise, link all your social media profiles together and cross promote.

Your next job might be a tweet away!

Take the plunge and go to networking events and collect business cards. Better yet, create your own personalised business cards, as it’s so much more professional to hand out a card. It can demonstrate to others that you take initiative, are organised and self-motivated. Stand out and you’ll be remembered.

It’s important to be authentic and passionate – do you! You’re great and no one can be you. We are all different with various skills and life experiences and that is why building your personal brand is essential.

So, what are you waiting for…. Go out and create your brand!

Disclaimer. I am by no means a career coach or guru, but want to inspire myself and others to take charge in their job hunting. To not be complacent and to actively go after what you want. I have been inspired by many successful woman who have created a brand around themselves! We got this! #GirlBoss

If you are job hunting I hope this is helpful, and if you have any tips, tricks or advice I would love to hear! Do you think you will start your personal brand?!

Good luck,

Love Career Girl

xo