How to thrive in a broken corporate system

“You should be earning, learning and having fun. And if you’re only doing one of these things, that’s not good.”

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There are a plethora of so called workplace norms that I feel really need to be set straight. Joining the rat race, earning, learning and having fun doesn’t mean you aren’t working hard too. It is possible to be nice and still succeed and to have a great work-life balance and be able to still do the best job. Often from the get go, it will be drummed into you that in order to do X you have to put up with Y, in order to progress you’ll have to wait Y years and in order to get a job you have to jump through multiple hoops.

No.

Not always the case and in fact it’s often the complete opposite. Here are, in my humble opinion, some misconceptions of the corporate world and how to survive in an outdated system:

You have to stay late and work hard to get ahead

Arriving early, working through a lunch break and staying late to show the boss your ‘working hard’ when you’re hardly working isn’t fooling anyone. Unless it’s vital, you shouldn’t make a habit of working extra hours unnecessarily as, unfortunately, once you start the process, you’ll likely be taken advantage of. It soon becomes the norm and therefore hard to backtrack once you’ve made the habit of putting in those extra hours. Focus more on quality of work outcomes not time spent. How efficiently are you working and how much value 9-5 do you provide for the company. Thinking and doing everything to better your workplace, investing in yourself and making yourself indispensable is a sure-fire way to move up the ranks.

You have to work X amount of years to be promoted

Earning a promotion should solely be based on your work ethic, passion, ability to do the job and how capable you are to progress and get to the next level. It’s a somewhat naive attitude to have to progress people using these types of parameters and only serves to clip your wings. Working under a manager with this mindset will dim your flame. You can be a CEO at 25 or 50, age doesn’t affect your ability to do a great job!

You should follow the money

This is true to an extent. Let’s face it we all need money right? We need money for rent, holidays, food, nights out etc. but research shows it’s only a motivator up to a certain point. I for one know that money is a major contributing factor to my motivation, but it’s not the main focus and prioritising learning, career progress and company culture should be just as important. Sacrificing a slight pay drop can be a good risk to take if in the long run you can increase your salary, along with adding a wider skill set and more experience to your CV.

Being thrown in at the deep end is a great way to learn

I fear when this is mentioned in interviews it’s often code for we just wing it, don’t have a training process in place nor have the time or resources. Being thrown in at the deep end makes you learn fast, sure, but often there’s a lot of unnecessary trail and error involved and especially with a lack of support and guidance, can knock confidence and result in major mistakes. I have learnt the most through this method but employees should make it their mission to invest in their staff with proper on-boarding, training opportunities, mentor sessions and exposure you to opportunities when you are capable.

You must eat your lunch at your desk

I think now more than ever this type of culture where you’ve got to be seen to be busy and therefore eat at your desk is silly and outdated. Practise mindfulness at work. Take your lunch-break as a break! Go for a walk, eat your lunch in a different environment and take your mind off. Nothing that game-changing can happen in 45 mins so you might as well make the most of your time out the office. You’ll find you’ll come back much more refreshed, energised and be more productive!

What irks you most about the corporate world?

Let me know in the comments,

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

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