On the First Day of Christmas… Relax, Reflect and Prepare
25th December: A Partridge in a Pear Tree
It’s officially Christmas! Spend your day relaxing by the fire and catching up with family and friends. Enjoy giving out presents from underneath the Christmas tree bejewelled in sparkling lights and an array of baubles that have accumulated over the years. Indulge on a feast of roast turkey with lashings of gravy whilst being surrounded by Christmas crackers, laughter and festivity. Now is the time to relax, reflect, and reward yourself with a very merry Christmas.
The Christmas break will provide the ultimate opportunity for getting some well needed rest, whilst also preparing for the year to come. If we apply this to your career, then your Christmas tree is not the only thing that has needed decorating; it is the perfect time to revamp your CV.
Showcase your skills in a way that reflects your best self. Exude positivity throughout your CV, highlighting how you have been a key employee within past organisations. Avoid any negative language and support your successes with action-based evidence of exceptional past performance and the effect this had within the organisation. Rather than simply mentioning sales as a skill, develop it to “excellent negotiator, achieving 130% or higher of sales target for three consecutive months, leading to top seller of the quarter and contributing to company’s best sales month for three years”. Don’t get carried away with excessive jargon. It is important that whilst your CV shows off your skills and qualifications, it is understandable to a recruiter too.
Less really is more – keep the format clear and simple and aim to keep your CV to two pages, unless you are an academic needing to include publication details. Stand true to your claims and reflect the skills you are trying to convey. If you possess excellent attention to detail, ensure your CV is accurate in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Make any use of full stops and bullet points consistent throughout. According to the Recruitment and Employment Commission, approximately half of all CVs sent to recruiters contain spelling and grammar mistakes. Make use of the spell check function and get someone else to check it through before uploading a final version. Don’t let your CV go pear-shaped!
On the Second Day of Christmas… Know Your Worth
26th Dec: Two Turtle Doves
Be sure that you have not outgrown your role and job title – is it time to take flight?
Although is it all too easy to grow complacent within a role or organisation, it is important that you feel you are valued and that you are rewarded accordingly. You may even feel that you have reached your peak within a role and are capable of more. Perhaps plan to meet your manager after the New Year to discuss internal opportunities at work. If there are no progression or promotional opportunities available within your current organisation, you may want to think about expanding your options and looking elsewhere.
Undertake some research on your current industry and role and see how your experience and salary matches up with others on the present job market. Browse through some online job boards to see what is out there and get a more current idea as to salary expectations. Keep in mind your location and job description when comparing this data. Make it clear that you are open to new opportunities near you so that recruiters are easily able to contact you following job applications. Explore your options and know your worth!
On the Third Day of Christmas… Volunteer
27th Dec: Three French Hens
The Three French Hens symbolise faith, hope and charity. Have faith in your own abilities, remain hopeful for new opportunities, and partake in charitable work.
Volunteering provides the perfect solution in order to satisfy all three of these factors. It will remind you of skills already acquired that you have for so long taken for granted. It provides the chance to explore new projects, thereby building on and developing your current skill set. It also offers a great chance to increase your professional network. The beauty of volunteering is that you will always have the freedom to control how many hours you do, thereby moulding charitable work around current work commitments and your social life.
Volunteering will undoubtedly improve your confidence, allow you to take on new challenges, and even provide you with experience in an industry or role that you are perhaps thinking of pursuing, but before having to make any long-term commitments. By partaking in voluntary projects, you could be opening new career opportunities all the while giving back to the wider community. Christmas is a time for giving after all!
On the Fourth Day of Christmas… Boost Productivity
28th Dec: Four Calling Birds
As cliché as it may sound, often the early bird does catch the worm, so rid yourself of any procrastination.
Whilst you have fewer work commitments and a freed-up schedule over Christmas, establish a routine of tasks to do and set strict but realistic timeframes in order to get a plan of action together. It is undeniable that a healthy workspace equals a healthy mind. Schedule time in for some ‘personal admin’. Create a clear filing system; ensure that your emails are neatly in folders and that your inbox is clear and up-to-date. Scan in any loose paperwork to cut down on paper lying around. Clean up your personal image, making sure you are smart and presentable for interviews, and that online profiles are respectable and professional.
Work hard, not smart, by ensuring that you have full visibility online. Check that you have correctly attached your CV, you are visible on job boards, and that you are easily accessible on LinkedIn. Concentrate in short bursts towards working out your next career move in order to gain maximum focus and stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Productivity and organisation are key! By improving your efficiency, you will enter the New Year with a clear head and a newly fuelled motivation. You will also free up some time for yourself in the process and gain more time to enjoy the festivities!
On the Fifth Day of Christmas… Explore Your Options
29th Dec: Five Gold Rings
Don’t go full circle and be running rings around your career – aim for gold!
Be sure to explore different career options. Whilst you have time to think over the Christmas break, work out what is causing your current job dissatisfaction. Boosting your career could entail several different possibilities. There could be a new role within your existing organisation, or even a similar role in a new organisation. Think about what it is you like about your current job and then consider what it is that is making you seek out a new opportunity. It could be that you are happy within your current role, but you would prefer to work in a company with a different environment.
Think about your ideal company to work for. What are the company’s values and ambitions? How does the company compare to its competitors? What training or development is on offer? Have a look at the organisation’s website, the location and building, the hiring process and literature on the organisation. All these factors could be influential moving forward. Make sure you know exactly what it is you are looking for before rushing into your next move – a job is not just for Christmas!
On the Sixth Day of Christmas… Expand Your Online Presence
30th Dec: Six Geese A-laying
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – increase your online presence as well.
Lay the path to success by creating your own online personal brand. Social networking is now crucial, whereby expanding your digital footprint will be fundamental to increasing your visibility to new opportunities. Making a good first impression is no longer restricted to interviews, where many recruiters and head-hunters will now make an opinion of a possible candidate based on their online profile alone. Create a LinkedIn account, making sure your profile picture is professional, clear and of you alone. Remember to tick that you are open to recruiters and always reflect a professional business web presence.
Think carefully about your skills, keeping in mind the role you are applying for, and ensure they are accurately reflected on your profile. Market yourself effectively and ensure your headline stands out. This is the first thing people see when looking at your profile; see it as your opportunity to sell yourself. Follow companies that interest you to gain a wider insight into the industry you are looking to get into. Interact with people by connecting with past and present colleagues, alumni, and people you have met at networking events. No network is ever too big – it might come in useful one day. Enhance your visibility by sharing topics and commenting on discussions. Take ownership and promote yourself in order to seek and discover opportunities over your Christmas break.
On the Seventh Day of Christmas… Build Communication and Presentation Skills
31st Dec: Seven Swans A-swimming
Take note from a swan’s ability to exude serenity on the surface whilst pedalling away under the water. Emulate this calmness and determination by refining your presentation and communication skills.
Outstanding communication skills are invaluable. They will make you influential, respected, and a highly valued individual. Poor communication could prove destructive to your professional reputation. Whilst many may instantly think of an effective communicator as someone that confidently
conducts meetings, presentations, and key conversations, the first step to effective communication is listening. Make mental note of key information and reiterate to co-workers to display your understanding and engagement. Ensure that all forms of written correspondence, including emails, letters, and reports, are clear and professional. Be both assertive and respectful – you do not want to fade into the background and appear uninterested. Share your opinions in a thoughtful manner to display your confidence and show that you are an active participant within the organisation.
The world of work can cause stress, annoyance, and disagreement, and a temptation to express grievances. Rather than complain, offer productive suggestions for improvements, and bypass the undesirable reputation of the office Grinch. Maintain positive body language by avoiding slouching or crossing your arms and ensure you have eye contact with everyone involved in the conversation. By improving the articulation of your ideas, you will appear polished and professional. This will not only reflect positively in your CV and interviews, but your relationship with co-workers, senior figures and prospective clients will flourish.
What better time than New Years Eve to replicate a new peace of mind and professionality in your presentation and communication skills, improving not only your personal image but how you deliver within the workplace.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas… Create and Take Opportunities
1st Jan: Eight Maids A-milking
Milk the opportunities that come your way.
Whilst January may be a month for reflection, it is also the ideal month to embrace change. It is the time when new opportunities will start appearing in the job market, so make sure you are prepared! Arrange to see old friends and build connections over a coffee and mince pie. Talk to family and old colleagues, reminding them of your presence and skill set.
Make sure you are aware of what is going on in the company you work for. Be proactive and offer to help the next time a company event is taking place, or a new project is underway. You will get the chance to demonstrate your skills and even develop and expand on your current skill set, proving invaluable moving forward. Leave any Bah Humbug at home – your energy and enthusiasm will not go unnoticed. It is sometimes the small things that you do that will make you memorable at work and show yourself to be a key team player. You will also demonstrate that you are adaptable to change, willing to learn and can represent the company well.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas… Network, Network, Network
2nd Jan: Nine Ladies Dancing
Whilst Christmas and the New Year are a great time for parties, socialising, and inadvertently, networking, you must seize any opportunity to network all year round. Whether it be work events, family get-togethers, or friends’ parties, networking events present the perfect opportunity to meet people in a more relaxed environment.
At work events, build relationships by finding out some more about your colleagues. It could be a great chance to introduce yourself to the team you are hoping to join. Whether it is a co-worker, their spouse, or someone outside of the organisation, include everyone in conversation to show your inclusiveness. Try and refrain from getting your mobile out every two minutes; show you are interested and engaged.
It is important that whilst you network and enjoy yourself, you act accordingly. Whilst it is the season to be jolly, control your alcohol intake; remember there could be people you want to impress in attendance! You want people to remember you for your engaging conversation, not as the individual that got carried away with the mulled wine. Understand and follow the dress code – now is not the time to be making a fashion statement. Avoid doing a Bridget Jones and turning up in an untimely fashion with wild hair and questionable make up. Remember the occasion and keep it formal, smart and respectable. Remember – networking events are not just for Christmas, and are a chance to make yourself known, but for the right reasons!
On the Tenth Day of Christmas… Expand Your Skill Set
3rd Jan: Ten Lords A-leaping
Take the leap and challenge yourself, but make sure you do your research before marching on to your next job in order to land firmly on your feet.
Be both ambitious and realistic. Study the industry you are looking to move into and make sure you have all the technical skills required before making the transition. Look up the requirements for your desired role and demonstrate how you have met these on your CV. Ensure you have the appropriate level of knowledge, qualifications and training, and key competencies for the desired job.
Taking on a new challenge could simply be about expanding your skill set. Undertake an online training course, join a public speaking club, or even join the Christmas choir in order to fill the gaps. It may not even be directly work linked; but it could still enhance your employability moving forward. Aim to stand out from the crowd and include any other information on your CV that will increase your employability. You may speak additional languages, have published work, or won an award – these are all marketable skills to both your current and prospective employers.
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas… Ask for Recommendations
4th Jan: Eleven Pipers Piping
Have others singing your successes by asking for recommendations.
Speak to family and friends and ask for their opinion of your best qualities and skills. It is common to take your own skill set for granted and so the opinion of those closest to you may remind you of your best attributes. Ask co-workers what they think are your professional strengths. Use online platforms such as LinkedIn to your advantage, sending requests for recommendations and endorsements for your skills. It will provide a public platform for your successes within work for anyone that comes across your profile to see – this could be future clients, recruiters and even potential employers.
Online recommendations will prove impressive moving forward and show off your professional reputation publicly. Recommendations not only reinforce but add credibility to the skills you have included in your CV and online profiles. Provide suggestions of what to include within the recommendation to make it easier for someone taking the time to respond. Ask them to include what they thought was your biggest strength or how your work impacted them or their organisation. Recommendations can come from a diverse range of people and will advance your personal brand.
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas… Keep Focused
5th Jan: Twelve Drummers Drumming
Beat your own drum and strive for success.
Keep your goal in mind and stay motivated. Create a plan of action and work out how you are going to implement this. Be sure to set clear goals with a time frame of what you need to achieve. Drum positivity into your head and keep Scrooge at bay. Now that you have recommendations from others, don’t forget to sing your own praises too. Whilst it may feel unnatural, take credit for your previous successes and make yourself heard. Learning how to look positively about yourself will not only boost your confidence but will encourage you to aim high and grab opportunities as and when they present themselves. Don’t be afraid to show off previous successes and your influence within them. Think about what has gone well previously – what did you do to deserve that pay rise or promotion? How can you apply this to your career moving forward?
Use your twelve-day check list to consolidate what it is you are looking for and make sure you have completed all the necessary steps in order to boost your career. Here’s to 2019 being your most successful yet!