What’s the worst that can happen’ – once I’ve answered this, the sensible thing is always just to crack on with it.
I left my last role in December after 16 years. That’s a long time. I’ll just say that again, it’s a LONG time and I am learning all over again how to really challenge myself.
I attended an Institute of Internal Communication (IOIC) event recently with Andrew Harvey and Liam FitzPatrick. Andrew spoke about putting yourself in the best possible position to be the candidate that lands that plum job. He reminded us that in an interview situation you are likely to be up against candidates who can all do the job. So, he asked, what sets you apart and makes you the one who actually gets the job?
Here are some of the things I’ve learnt in the last couple of months and you can do too to make sure you get yourself match fit for that next great opportunity:
- Join at least one professional body – they can provide you with learning opportunities, relevant research contacts in your area of expertise and much more. If you are in internal comms, then IOIC or CIPR Inside is a must.
- Set out a PDP – You know the phrase ‘Fail to plan…plan to fail’. Don’t be that person. If I’d had a PDP all those years ago, I probably would have moved jobs much sooner and who knows what I might have learnt along the way?
- Put yourself forward for speaking opportunities – not everyone’s first choice, but it really is a good skill to have. In addition, it forces you to think about the extensive knowledge you have and distill it down for others. Even if they don’t want you to speak they might offer you another role which still gives you the chance to network.
- Contacting people who you think might be happy to chat through ideas. My passion is for good internal comms and I’ve found that professionals in the internal comms world in particular are very friendly, kind and approachable.
- Join Twitter chats – not only do you get to debate different topics and therefore learn, you also get to see who the experts are in your area of work and follow them.
- Take advantage of any opportunities for training – if you are employed, make sure you know what is available to you and sign up to as much as you can that will help you fulfill your personal development plan. If you are not employed, look out for free or low cost learning opportunities. There are often free courses available through local councils that you can sign up to.
- As well as formal learning that you can attend there are loads of opportunities to learn on line, whether they are webinars or research publications or LinkedIn articles. And of course, there are always good old fashioned books!
- Learn new skills – I was lucky that Helen Reynolds was running #31DaysOfCreativity when I needed to jump back into Twitter. It forced me to have a go at learning new skills, some on line, some paper based (even origami!) and gave me a big confidence boost from learning new skills.
- Learn more about other industries – offer to do a piece of work for them or use an organisation like the Cranfield Trust to offer your time as a volunteer in your area of expertise.
- Use every opportunity you can to network – in your industry or profession, but outside of it too so you get a feel for what others are doing, what are the upcoming technologies, how can you use that thinking in your area of work.
- It sounds basic, but make sure you keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. There is so much more you can add to it than just your employment history and you can even use it for training. Use every opportunity you can to build up your list of contacts and keep in touch with them.
- And finally, be brave – I tell myself this several times a day, closely followed by ‘What’s the worst that can happen’ – once I’ve answered this, the sensible thing is always just to crack on with it.