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    Career Blog

    Welcome to the Position Ignition Career Blog, where you will find career advice for your career change, job search and career development. Explore our advice on career planning, how to change careers, personal and professional development and more.


    10 Things you must do before or as you change careers 

    In today’s world, the average individual will change careers several times in their lifetime.  There is more choice available to us than in previous generations - especially for those with talent, drive and ambition.  Currently the support that we tend to find is really limited. It’s also pretty generic –

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    Work conflicts and work conflict resolution 

    It costs UK plc the equivalent of the annual GDP of a small nation in lost productivity and earnings. Half of the country’s HR professionals report that they have to deal with it frequently or continually and two thirds of them cite it as the reason for prolonged absence*. We’re talking about conflict in the workplace – that’s right – work conflicts and work conflict resolution.  

    It’s a recurring theme and one I hear almost daily: “The work I can handle, it’s the people I have problems with!”.  See a similar blog written about how to deal with a difficult boss or manager.  It will more than likely have an impact far beyond the immediate protagonists as the ramifications and fall out can ripple across the whole organisation. And work conflicts are not an issue that is the sole preserve of any one; more the unsuccessful section of the working population. Indeed many of my clients are hugely successful business people in their own right: exceptional, energetic individuals with significant value to offer. However, like all of us, they are vulnerable and no organisation, and no one individual, is immune - from the most humble office junior through to the Chairman of the Board.

    In fact, it was indeed the Chairman of the organisation that was involved recently in a scenario with one of my CEO clients. An acknowledged workaholic, she’d recently been diagnosed with a serious illness. She was aware that she had to make significant changes in her work/life balance but old habits - and other people’s perceptions of her - were hard to change.

    Of particular interest was the lack of understanding by her Chairman. The fact that she said little about how seriously ill she was meant that she received little attention. If she and the organisation are not careful, they could be without her for a considerable time. Lack of communication, planning and understanding were leading to serious issues and conflict between all of the parties and had to be addressed.

    The client needed the space to think about her situation.  She needed to think through her priorities and recognise that nothing is more important than her health.  Achieving more in the short term will not matter if the organisation loses her leadership forever.  Getting clear about what is important, what needs to be done and determining her own clear plan of action had the effect of sorting out her challenges and giving her more energy for her recovery period.

    Effective communication is the root of all work conflict resolution. Our type of work offers the opportunity for leaders and managers to work through their challenging people issues.  If they can deal with these issues early and effectively, work conflicts do not get to a point of causing the huge distractions and costs that research is showing.   We spend huge amounts each year on dealing with work conflict resolution when we really do not have to; if only we managed it better.

    These are basic, albeit often neglected, management skills and much of our time is being spent in enabling the effective transfer of basic coaching skills to increase the effectiveness of line managers. The key is helping individuals, and the people around them, to help themselves and to take control of their own decisions and direction in their personal and/or business lives.    

    *’Leadership and the management of conflict at work.’ CIPD research Oct 2008 

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    Author: Simon North

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    Find your inner self? Nah – Create yourself!

    A few years ago when I was down in the dumps, feeling rather lost, frustrated, confused about where I was going and what to do – a received a lovely gift.  It was a mug – but not just any old mug.  It had some writing on it which said:

    Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about CREATING YOURSELF’

    Unfortunately it did not say who this delightful quote is from.  If you happen to know – do add a comment.. 

    I used to talk to friends and colleagues who may mention ‘finding yourself’ or your ‘inner self’ or how it’s great to spend time to ‘discover yourself’.  People to go to meditation retreats, take gap years to find themselves, grow, learn and so on.  This is all fine and dandy – but really once you’ve ‘found’ yourself then what? Let’s get on board here – let’s make things happen!  Spending time to get to know yourself, what you are like – what you enjoy, value, are good at and passionate about is all hugely valuable – don’t get me wrong.  It’s a key emphasis on what we do here – however it forms only 1 part of the equation.   In order to get where you want to be we need to take control.  Create yourself! Decide what is important to you – how you want to be, how you want to live – and create that world!  Position Ignition's career control programme is designed specifically to help individuals achieve this.

    Nowadays - whenever I feel confused with life or work, when I’m unsure or unclear about myself – I look at this mug and remember that – I’m in charge.  I’m in control.  It’s up to me to go out there and choose exactly how I want my life and career to be.  The focus is not on this soul-searching, ‘finding myself’, ‘discovering the inner me’ – in order to move from A to B – it’s about creating who I am and who I am going to be.  Now it’s your turn – go ahead – create yourself…

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    Author: Nisa Chitakasem


    How hard can it be?

    Probably not an unusual story;  school careers choices made on the basis of what would antagonise my parents most, last minute application to Uni to do a course no one had ever heard of (and probably partly because of that), college options slightly (?) influenced by the presence of a great looking guy from the Social Sciences department, graduated with an Arts degree in the middle of a recession (not this one) and no job.

    It was like pouring a bucket of ice-cold water over my own head.  I found a graduate trainee scheme that would take me on and give me the vocational skills and credibility I needed.  I worked my way through the tiers of professional exams (my more cynical friends say you can virtually buy them now...) and then up the Corporate ladder to a respectable leadership role.

    In theory all was going swimmingly, though below the surface I struggled with trying to be a great partner, a great mother and daughter, and a great professional.  I allowed myself to be judged by everyone else's yardstick (well, meter rule), and hey, wondered why I always fell short.

    A second dose of ice cold water was called for.  I left not just my job, but the old inadequate me, behind.  In a stumbling sort of way, with the help of all sorts of kind souls I met along the way, I took the time to work out what was really important to me and why.  I created my own sense of measurement (which by the way includes space for experimentation with no external judgement permittted).

    I applaud Position Ignition, its very existence may help people recognise that they are legitimately architects of their own lives.  It will be a great catalyst, but be in no doubt, it's your story.  I dare you to be you!

    Author: Joanna Pollard 


    Hate work? Living only for the holidays?

    Do you refer to your job as ‘just a job’? Do you hate work? Is it there just to ‘bring the money in’ and ‘pay the bills’?  Are your holidays the only times you look forward to? If this is the case you will not find yourself alone.

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    Redundant or lost a job? - Out of work. Not out of time.

    Have you lost your job?  Been out of work for a while? Being made redundant or just fed up with where you are?  Now is the time to figure out what you really want to do.  Make your dream happen.  Know what you are passionate about and land the job that is right for you.

    Once out of work things can feel very difficult.  You can start to panic and be overwhelmed by the pressures of a lost job and what to do next. 

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    Where career advice might live in our life

    Most of us have tripped into our careers. Even those who went into professions like law and accountancy tell of taking up the training as nothing else had happened for them.

    Why is it that most of us have not experienced career advice?  In schools it is usual that the careers teacher is doing that job as one part of a wider portfolio.  And that role is often administrative as the expectation is that there is a library of information that students can access.  In universities it is not much better.  One of the UK's top universities requires students to pre-book a session where the student then has 15 minutes help with their cv.  It is probably useful advice.  How useful is it in the context of career advising as we might want it?

    In business schools the students invest significantly for their programmes.  The full-time MBA is paid for by the student who has also the opportunity cost of not working.  The benefit and risk issues is significant to them.  The part-time MBAs at business schools are over 2 years and are usually sponsored by the employer of the student.  There is less risk to the student; they continue to be  paid and their job continues after their MBA has been completed.

    In these business schools, career advice and support is critical to the full-time student.  The student needs to understand fully the level of support that they will get throughout their course as the course budget gets squeezed by the costs of all the other componenets of the programmes.  On the part-time MBA, the employers are sceptical (scared?) of any career advice lest the students walk away after the MBA is completed.

    The stages above are just 3 examples of where career advice is useful.  Some people are fortunate that they have access to good advice.  They may have a parent or parents who take an interest and who are able to encourage their offspring down an appropriate channel.  Sometimes there is a teacher or a mentor who has specific expereince that is helpful.  For most, though, the career issue is not prevalent until it lurches into view at key moments - when one leaves school or university or when when has finished that Masters.

    These examples are obvious as they are at  "rite of pasage" points in our lives or where we may have taken a key decision to invest in our career.  What would happen if careers were more central to our learning experiences at these key stages?

    The best career advice is achieved by understanding the capablities of an individual.  In a school context this is often well understood by the teaching community as they are working with the students regularly in an academic, pastoral and ex curricula way. They are also measuring regularly to feedback to students and parents and also to relevant external bodies.  The wherewithal to undertake good career advice is there.  Most schools are not resourced to provide it.

    The main issue seems to be that, as a society, we do not value careers as an important subject.  Whether it is in schools or with people in work who are careering (rather than controlling) in their careers, the lack of value pertains.  Some people do take proactive action and they broadly fall into 2 camps - they are in pain and distress because they have lost their jobs or they are bored and frustrated and know that they have to move out of what they are doing.

    Taking care of your career is a lifelong responsibility.  The earlier that we can value that notion and learn how to take care of it, the better it will be for the whole of one's working life. 

    Author: Simon North

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