Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Last week I attended a training course facilitated by Professor Jim Bright on Career Coaching, Counselling and Assessment. The first question he asked was “have you arrived in your current job by choice or by chance?” Jim is the co-author of the book called “The Chaos Theory of Careers” and this training covered how our careers are often shaped by unplanned events.

I found the course fascinating as I listened intently whilst Jim talked about some pitfalls of goal setting and following rigid plans in the changing world of work and times of uncertainty. Jim’s teachings highlighted that these methods are effective as long as you keep an open mind to change and are flexible in your decision making. Whilst you can set well laid plans sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time.

1-Sony Photos 083This brings me to a story about a placement student from England, who I met last month working at an HR firm in Melbourne. Alex began her career at the age of fourteen working for her Dad’s charity shop where she gained skills in customer service as well as organising fundraising events. From here Alex knew she would like to work in a business where she can make a positive contribution and provide excellent service.

Following this Alex found a part time customer service role in a large retail store which she loved and has since worked in a larger department store whilst completing full time studies at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK. She is now more than half way through studying for a Degree in International Business.

One day Alex’s Mum was talking about a busy project they had on at work, so Alex asked if she could come in and help out. She provided administrative support for one week at an HR consulting firm in Leeds and here Alex built on her experience and skills working in an office.

Alex’s degree requires students to partake in studying abroad and/or international work placements. Alex chose to do both, firstly by seeking out a study assignment for six months in the town of Poiters, France in early 2014.

At this point, Alex’s career choices have been planned and considered with some positive environmental influences including the opportunity to work at her Mother and Father’s workplaces, being accepted into a university course and having the resources to travel and study abroad.

Not long after the study placement in France, Alex’s mum mentioned at a work team building session how proud she was of her daughter to be studying in the town of Poiters. Coincidently, the Managing Director had lived in Poiters and was interested to know more so got in touch with Alex to chat about her experience and future career plans. Alex took this opportunity to ask if the MD had someone in her network she could speak to about gaining some experience working in Australia. This led to Alex contacting a senior manager of the HR firm in Melbourne which set the wheels in motion for a three month work placement.

I asked Alex about this story and she said “Its fate…I don’t think I would have got this opportunity if I hadn’t worked in Poiters and my Mum hadn’t mentioned it in that meeting.”

If you asked Alex five years ago where she saw herself in five years time it’s unlikely she’d say “delivering a LinkedIn Skills workshop for an HR consulting firm in Melbourne”. Alex has driven her career by being open to possibilities and is motivated to work hard, but some of her career story can also be attributed to chance events.

Alex has recently secured her final overseas placement in Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy next year before returning to the UK to complete her degree. She is due to finish her studies in June 2016, by which time her international business career will surely be taking off.

Maybe you’ve landed a job by being in the right place at the right time.

Turn Wishful Thinking into an Action Plan

Do you aspire to do things differently or make changes for the better but end up making excuses and doing nothing? Changing habits is about making a commitment to changing our behaviour or actions in areas that are important to us, such as health, money, work and relationships. It’s about identifying what you’d like to improve and taking manageable steps towards making this change.

Goal Wish Quote

I’ve written previously on the topic of procrastination and wanted to expand on this with some more strategies to get you moving forward. To get you thinking about how you can make a change, here are five questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is my goal?
  2. What is preventing me from getting started?
  3. How do I overcome these obstacles?
  4. What tools and resources will I need?
  5. What are my tasks, milestones and timelines in reaching my goal?

Once you’ve set your goal you need to take it seriously.  Writing down and working through the above five questions can help you visualise your journey and make it more meaningful. Keeping a journal can be helpful to track your progress, record your thoughts and feelings, list questions and document any research and ideas. Sharing your progress with a careers coach can help with reflecting, brainstorming and keeping on track.

When I work with job seekers we agree on action points to be completed by our next meeting. This provides a focus and is motivating when discussing the completed tasks and outcomes. Setting up a routine is part of creating momentum with the things that matter.

I recently set myself a goal to improve my diet and fitness, and with the help of a Health Coach, the tasks I set each fortnight have been within my reach. I could have decided to join a gym or a netball team, but realistically, I know I wouldn’t commit to either of these activities. By choosing manageable tasks that incorporate exercise into my daily routine, I haven’t needed to make radical changes to my lifestyle.

It’s also about having self-trust in taking these steps. Check out another post of mine about backing yourself and having the confidence to try new things. Whether it’s putting your hand up for extra challenges at work or enrolling in a training course, you need to believe in yourself to make things happen.

Value CommitmentA year ago I was supporting a client through her career transition. After a solid career in environmental consulting she had decided to change paths. Her goal was to work as a Technical Writer/Editor. The steps she took were to research this type of work and what was required in the role. She joined an editing industry group and signed up with recruiters in this field. She tailored her resume towards this role – highlighting relevant skills and undertook online training courses to build on the skills needed. She also secured volunteer work as an editor. It wasn’t long before my client was being invited to interviews and was offered the role of Technical Writer. My client saw the value in making this change in her career and her commitment to making it happen has paid off.

If you find yourself drifting along in the hope that things will change, they probably won’t. Unless you act on your dreams, they might only be wishful thinking.

The Wonder of Remote Interviewing


A Prague job interview for an Irish woman travelling in Rajasthan, by Genevieve Ward

This month I’ve taken some time out from my business to travel through parts of India. My partner and I are two thirds of the way through a tour of Rajasthan, where we’ve visited palaces and forts, walked through small farming villages and market places, interacted with some of the local people and enjoyed their delicious food. It’s been an amazing experience so far. Continue reading

Being Paid for What You Love

Change Quote Lao TzuI admire people who recognise that their chosen job is ‘not for life’ and then do something about it. My Mum started studying for a university degree in her 40s and has since transitioned from working as a Personal Assistant to working in mental health as a Carer Consultant – a role which she thoroughly enjoys.

Being open to a new career path and exploring ways to make this happen, can pay off when you find yourself being paid for what you love. Here’s a couple of career change stories to give you some inspiration:

Cheers, Gen

Going the Extra Mile

Above The MarkWhen employers are assessing job applications, one of the things they look for is how you can add value to their organisation. As they review your application or listen to your interview responses they will want to know what makes you stand out above the others. Similarly, when potential clients want to hear about my career coaching services, I let them know that I not only help with writing their resume, but also give extra job search tips in our discussions and keep an eye out for suitable job opportunities. Continue reading

Random Acts of Kindness

I’m currently reading a book by social researcher, Hugh Mackay called The Good Life. In his preface Mackay describes:

“This type of life is marked by a courteous respect for others’ rights, a responsiveness to others’ needs (including, most particularly, their need to be taken seriously) and a concern for others’ wellbeing. A person living this life will be motivated by kindness and compassion.”

When I reflect on my own values and actions I hope that this is the life I’m living. Last year I noticed an article in our local newspaper, the Bendigo Advertiser, which asked people to share stories about their random acts of kindness. For instance – giving someone a smile, visiting an animal shelter, and making your workmate a cup of tea. I’d like to think most of us do these things without too much thought. Continue reading

Are you on LinkedIn?

LinkedInWhen I meet new people in a professional setting I often ask if they are on LinkedIn.  They may be a potential client, someone who can add value to my business or a job seeker I’m working with.  LinkedIn is a professional networking site and many companies use this tool as a means of recruiting staff.

When it comes to landing a job, your LinkedIn profile acts as the online version of your resume.  I’m going to share with you eight ways to build up your profile so you get noticed by potential employers. Continue reading