All posts by Richard Harris

What to do When You Feel Like Quitting

Feel like quitting? It’s important to ask yourself some key questions before you hand in your letter of resignation. 

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Moving jobs is consistently rated by psychologists as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life (more stressful, for example, than the birth of a child or planning your wedding). So it’s vital for your own well-being that you manage the whole situation very carefully.

Before you even begin to start the process of hunting for a new job, you need to ask yourself the key question – what’s my motivation?

Why Do People Start Looking Elsewhere?

People look for new jobs for a whole host of reasons, but they generally fall into one of the following groups:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the work they’re doing
  2. Dissatisfaction with their remuneration
  3. Dissatisfaction with their working environment
  4. Dissatisfaction with their manager(s)

It’s interesting to note that people are often only motivated into actively looking for a new job when they are unhappy with more than one of these aspects. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s my advice.

What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting

Before you storm into your boss’s office with your letter of resignation, you should think carefully about whether your dissatisfactions can be resolved in your current situation. Let’s look at these one by one.

1) Feeling Unsatisfied?

If you are finding your current work is unsatisfying, first check if there are other, more interesting projects coming up for which you could volunteer. Or, if you are finding that your expertise is causing you to become “pigeon-holed” into one area, look into whether there are internal opportunities to cross-train into different and more exciting areas, and gain new skill-sets.

2) Struggling on Your Salary?

If you’re unhappy with your salary, you need to check whether you are being fairly remunerated for the work that you do. This information may not be easily obtained within your company because of individual confidentiality, but job-boards contain a lot of data, and sites like Glassdoor will give you a rough idea of whether you are being paid what your skills and experience are worth.

If you have been with the same company for a long time you may find that your pay has only increased by small increments each year, and your own boss may be unaware that your salary is unfair in relation to the market as a whole. Before you hand in your notice, you should at least talk to your manager, armed with the relevant information, to give them a chance to improve matters for you.

But be warned, you may have already hit the salary threshold for your skill-set, in which case you should think about learning new skills, developing niche expertise or taking on more responsibilities.

3) Unhappy with the Working Environment?

Your working environment covers everything from the company culture (which you probably can’t change) to the working hours and your work-life balance.

People’s needs change throughout their careers: if your domestic situation changes because of childcare needs or caring for a relative, talk to your HR department or manager about adjusting your working hours.

Increasingly, companies understand the cost to them of losing experienced staff (and having to find and train replacements) so they are much more willing to be flexible in accommodating the needs of their teams.

4) Bad Manager?

Perhaps the hardest problem to resolve is a bad manager. Micro-manager, absent manager, unappreciative manager, bully…it’s an old truism that “people leave managers, not jobs”.

If you’re feeling unappreciated you may need to run an internal PR campaign and make sure that your boss has realised all of the things that you’ve achieved for the company.

If the person you report to is irrepressibly miserable, or a shameless bully, you may have the capability to neutralise or ignore their toxic behaviour. However, it may be too emotionally-exhausting and this will be all the worse if the company’s senior management don’t seem to care.

Focus On Being Happy

So, if your managers are steering your company onto the rocks, while paying you a pittance for working every hour under the sun…it’s maybe time to go.

At least you have investigated whether the situation can be saved, and by looking at your motivations you will know which aspects are most important for you.

This will save you many hours of pain and stress in the job-hunting process because right from the start you will know what your “red-lines” are.

  • If you absolutely need a certain level of income to support your family then you can rule out everything below that;
  • If you absolutely need to be able to drop your child at school in the morning then you can focus your attention on those employers who support flexible working hours;
  • If you’re committed to learning new skills then you need to find a company who will truly support your drive for self-improvement.

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve with your job-move then you will be focusing on the things that are important to you, the things that are most likely to make you happier and less stressed. This is really important not just for your own well-being but also because there is a huge body of evidence that proves that happy people work more effectively, and so you are creating a virtuous circle for your next job.

And now it’s time to think about the next key step – your CV!

Richard Harris is Managing Director at Mohawk Consulting. Mohawk Consulting is a specialist recruitment company, working within the professional services market, particularly at the level of experienced hire/manager/director.

What Tinder Can Tell Us About Job Hunting – Part 4: She’s Just Not That Into You

There are more similarities between Tinder and the job hunting process than you might think. Here’s how to deal with rejection from both potential partners and dates.

Job Hunting & Tinder Rejection

Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in this series.

It all started so well. You went into it with high hopes, and it seemed like a match made in heaven. You’d told your friends, you’d even told your mum and of course she’d told her friends. But then…nothing. They never call, they never write. Those potential employers can be every bit as heart-breaking as the “ideal” match that you thought you’d made through Tinder.

Coping with rejection is an inevitable part of the job hunting process and because it can feel both painful and humiliating you need to remember to deal with it properly.

Rejection can happen at any stage of the Tinder or job hunting processes. Although it’s tempting to try to spare your own feelings by quickly saying “plenty more fish in the sea” and moving swiftly on, it’s a much better idea to sneak a peek through your fingers and try to work out what went wrong.

Saying the Right Things

If your Tinder profile is fundamentally pictures of you with your friends, you may think “I look sociable, that’s great” but your prospective dates may be thinking “who am I supposed to be looking at?” Similarly with CVs, a lot of people talk about the projects that they’ve worked on, and what the team did, without saying what they personally achieved. It’s important to stand out so that people can see you. Otherwise you may simply get a Swipe Left – CV in the bin.

If you’re getting a lot of rejections without meeting anyone, go back and see if what you’re saying about yourself is really selling you as well as it could be.

On the other hand it may be that you’ve not quite tried hard enough. Maybe some of your Tinder photos are blurry, or taken from a bad angle, or in harsh lighting. Similarly, your CV may be littered with spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors or written in an ugly font (Times New Roman for CVs? No!). So, do the painful thing and try to find what you’re doing wrong.

One advantage that job-hunters have over Tinder-users is that if they don’t hear back they can always try again. If you’ve applied for a job but not heard back, then why don’t you look again at the job spec, reconfirm that your CV really is a good match and that it’s well-presented, and then ask the potential employer for their comments.

Your CV may have been lost amid a mass of applications, and if you show the initiative and enthusiasm to follow up then you are much more likely to at least get a response.

Be on the Level

Now let’s say your prospective date/employer likes what they see and invites you to chat over a coffee. You’ve told them that you’re a highly-skilled tennis coach/brain surgeon/fighter-pilot but when they meet you they discover that, well, you’re just not.

No-one likes to feel misled and a potential employer is going to be every bit as disappointed as a potential date to find out that you’ve lied to them. The subsequent rejection is your fault, not theirs. In future, you need to focus on being the great person that you are, and not trying to pretend to be someone else.

Let’s assume you’ve got to that meeting and it seems like everything went swimmingly. The body language was there, the personal chemistry was right. It feels like you’re both exactly what the other person was looking for. But then the communication stops – no more friendly messages, no more wooing. It seems that you’ve been dropped like a hot potato.

It could be that the other person hasn’t made up their mind yet, or needs to meet other people first, so if you’ve not heard anything for perhaps a week it is entirely fair for you to make contact. No news is not always bad news. You don’t want to seem like a stalker of course, but you do want to express your interest.

Don’t be Disheartened

And this is a good point to remind you that when you are the one holding the balance of power, as a potential employer or a potential date, the right way to deal with people is to be nice. If you’re going to reject someone, be polite, be clear, and don’t waste their time. Karma will reward you.

Sometimes you’re going to do everything right and it’s still not going to work. Unfortunately that’s just life. You can be the perfect person in every way but it may turn out that your prospective date simply clicks that little bit better with someone else.

It’s the same when you’re job hunting. You may completely fit the bill but if a prospective employer meets someone who brings an additional skill which the employer hadn’t even thought that they needed…well, there’s nothing you can do about that.

Sometimes when they say, “it’s not you, it’s me”, that’s true – you couldn’t have done anything differently. So when that happens, brush yourself down, remind yourself that you’re fabulous, and get back out there.

Good luck!

What Tinder Can Tell Us About Job Hunting – Part 3: Playing the Game

Tinder can be a whole lot of fun. Like Snap, but infinitely more stimulating. But it’s not a game, and needs to be treated with the respect it deserves, or people can be left hurt and disappointed.

Tinder-Game-Match

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

This series of articles was co-authored with Andy Storrar, Digital Marketing Specialist.

Your search for a new job is the same. Like Tinder, you could take a YOLO approach, frantically swiping right on everything and waiting to see how many matches you get, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Recruiters and Employers keep databases of candidates. You don’t want your earlier flurry of applications for completely inappropriate jobs to undermine your chances of an interview for the perfect one next week.

So act with consideration, select your targets carefully, and the validation you gain from achieving a fantastic match will be all the greater. And you know that feeling of “Tinder Remorse” that can occur if you’ve swiped left too quickly (or swiped right without thinking properly)?

Well, it’s worse when it’s being pointed out to you by a recruiter that you’re not appropriate for this role either. So slow down, and give careful consideration to what you want from that big next step.

Stay Organised

Now, nobody’s suggesting you’re going to be as active as my friend Robin. She’s pretty much a Tinder pro. Last time I asked her, she was averaging 3 first dates and the same number of follow-ups each week. She barely has to buy dinner, let alone drinks, and is the proud owner of an insanely long list of matches, even after deleting the ones who open their messaging with “Hi, how are you?”

The number of dates she goes on is limited only by the miserly 7 days in each week and her own level of tiredness. But how does she keep track of where she is in these multiple simultaneous processes?

Robin keeps a spreadsheet. No, seriously. As a procurement professional, you’ll probably have come across one or two of these. I’d hazard Robin’s is a little less numerical than some, but the principle is exactly the same. It’s helped Robin keep track of conversations, venues, insights and key facts about her suitors, and helped her avoid embarrassing situations relating to her busy social life.

Robin may be an extreme example, but the tangled web that we can weave in online dating can often be reflected when job hunting. It’s quite usual to be chatting to and meeting several people in the same month through Tinder, and just as likely that you’ll be wooing several different employers simultaneously, and at varying stages of each relationship.

A simple spreadsheet can be an effective and diplomatic way of managing your information. You should be making notes of your conversations with recruiters anyway, but putting them all into a single document with sensibly indexed and easily referenced categories is a move you won’t regret.

Do Your Research

Information isn’t just gained from meeting a date or a potential employer, of course. Research is key too. We’ll deal with that in another article, but remember that it works both ways. Google will likely lead you to a wealth of insight about a prospective employer.

It will also allow them (like a Tinder match who knows your surname) to find out an awful lot about you. Remember your digital footprint, and consider restricting public access to any social media accounts that might not represent you in the best light.

There’s more than one game in town too. Tinder is certainly one route to meeting people, but if you’re looking for a partner you definitely shouldn’t restrict your search to Tinder alone. Apart from an ocean of different dating websites, you know that friends, colleagues, social activities and even chance encounters are all chances to ‘match’.

Vary Your Habits

And so it is that varying your job searching habits can reap rewards too. You won’t always find your perfect match via the search engines and even the most successful and broad-ranging of the job sites can only individually claim market coverage of a fraction of the whole.

Employers’ websites, industry publications and blogs, direct approaches and your own trusty network are all capable of revealing unadvertised opportunities. You’ve just got to make sure to keep your eyes open, remain alert to all of them, and be capable of managing the process efficiently and sensitively when opportunities appear.

The search for a new job can be a heady and exciting business – as of course can the fast-moving search for romance on Tinder – but you need to understand the rules, and learn the subtleties and complexities of the whole process, if you’re going to play this game well.

What Tinder Can Tell Us About Job Hunting – Part 2: “My mother warned me about people like you”

In the second part of this series, we look at how to make sure a recruiter sees you as the right person for the job.

Tinder App 2

You can read Part 1 of the series here.

This series of articles was co-authored with Andy Storrar, Digital Marketing Specialist.

The worlds of romance and recruitment have this fundamentally in common: someone is looking for the right person, “The One”, and they know that they may have to kiss a lot of metaphorical frogs before they find that person.

And you, my friend, want to connect with your ideal person or work for your ideal company, so let’s think about the lessons we can learn from Tinder.

In the heady early days of someone’s Tinder usage, all that exploratory frog-kissing is pretty damn fun: everyone looks exciting, glamorous, attractive and intelligent. We love them all! But after a few months, and a number of bad dates, the shine has worn off somewhat.

Make Them Feel Loved

Now let’s imagine that your Tinder user is instead part of the recruitment process. It doesn’t matter whether they’re working for a potential employer or for a recruitment agency, you can be sure of this – they’ve kissed a whole swamp full of frogs and they’ve got a rather nasty taste in their mouth. You are wooing a much more cynical audience, and so you need to take care about how you make your approach.

You want the object of your affections/approaches to feel wanted and appreciated – you wouldn’t start a love letter “Dear Sir/Madam” unless you were writing to a horrifyingly undiscerning audience – so make sure that when you make that first approach you show you’ve made the effort. At the very least you need to know the person’s name (and spell it right!), and as far as possible you should try to understand what they’re looking for.

You might be surprised by how many people, when applying for a job, use a template cover letter without bothering to change any details or to explain why they are an ideal match. To a slightly jaded CV-reviewer this doesn’t seem very different from the “numbers game” person at a disco who doesn’t care about nine offended rebuttals as long as they get a kiss the tenth time.

Why Are You a Good Match?

At the same time, if you’re applying for a job for which you’re not quite right, don’t just fire in your CV without making any effort, like someone trying to hoover up a kiss from the drunken singletons at the end of a party. Take the time to emphasise the areas where you do fit and what makes you a good match: in the end, that job may not be quite right but it may still have an attractive sibling in search of “The One”.

Just as you wouldn’t use clichés in your Tinder profile because that would make you sound unimaginative and stupid, it’s not a good idea to glibly claim on your CV that you have a “unique combination of skills” if two million other people in the country can say the same thing. Another common cliché is to claim that you are “the ideal candidate” – this sounds presumptuous and more than a little conceited. The person reviewing your CV has a strong urge to swipe left.

Of course you want to stand out from the crowd…but in a good way. You won’t achieve this by posting Tinder pictures of yourself with drugged tigers or swilling champagne in a helicopter – these are the people your mother warned you about, although frankly she hardly needed to.

A potential employer also wants to know what is special and individual about you, so make sure to highlight the things that you have achieved: don’t try to boastfully claim the achievements of the whole team but instead flag up the specific difference that you made.

Recruiters read a lot of CVs that just list what happened on a project, without showing the contributions that the individual made, and they tend to think that, no matter how glittering the project may sound, the person probably achieved nothing – fairly or unfairly, the individual behind the CV has just sunk into the swamp. Swipe left.

The “One” Is Out There

Does it sound like your ideal partner will never swipe right on you? Not so. That person (or company) is still out there looking for their ideal match, and they really, really want to find them. In the world of Tinder, we know that Romance never dies (although it does sometimes get very cross indeed and give up for a month or so); in the world of employment, those hiring managers want to get the right match and they are being paid to kiss frogs to do it.

It’s your duty not to make the mistakes that might prevent them from seeing that maybe, just maybe, you’re “The One”.

What Tinder Can Tell Us About Job Hunting – Part 1: First Impressions

In the first part of this series, we look at how to make a good first impression.

Tinder-App

This series of articles was co-authored with Andy Storrar, Digital Marketing Specialist.

My friend Anna was a little surprised last month when the 6′ fighter pilot she’d arranged a first date with turned out to be 5’2″ and appeared to have grown a different face since posting his Tinder profile. The ‘date’ lasted all of 30 seconds. There won’t be a second one.

It’s the same with your CV. Just like Tinder, it’s vital that it leads with a short summary capturing the essence of who you are, but ultimately, it also needs to be truthful. Embellishment and downright lies might make you a potential match, and even get you a first meeting, but no matter how vibrant your personality, you’re not even going to get to first base if a couple of well-chosen questions, or, in Anna’s case, a horrified first glance, are going to destroy your work of fiction. It’s a waste of everybody’s time, and word can start to get around, landing you with a reputation you really don’t want.

And in the rare event that you do somehow pass muster with some seriously creative additions to your profile, you’ll still have to live with the possibility of being busted later. Remember Scott Thompson, the CEO of Yahoo who got himself fired after it came to light that he didn’t have the degree in Computer Science his CV claimed? He was massively qualified for the job in every other way, but trustworthiness was the issue. And nobody wants to work, or sleep, with a liar, right?

Accuracy Matters

Both employers and potential dates are looking for specifics. There’s really no point in pretending to be what you’re not, or applying for roles for which you simply haven’t got the skills. You shouldn’t be applying for a senior role interacting with suppliers and internal customers if the only stakeholders you’ve managed are your own knife and fork.

My little pun on ‘stakeholders’ above masks a serious point: spelling and grammatical accuracy matter. Sure, some people care about it more than others, but if you’re aiming for a high calibre outcome you should be sure not to exclude yourself from the consideration set through appearing not to care. As a recruiter, I saw countless CVs from “mangers”, “analists” and other “bussiness proffessionals”. Spellcheck alone won’t pick up all the errors, but first impressions count.

You wouldn’t (I hope) use a profile picture on Tinder that shows spinach between your teeth and food down your front. Make sure your attention to detail is at least as good for your CV. If you’re not sure, or even if you are, it’s a good idea to get a trusted friend to check it over for you. Better to have any errors pointed out in confidence than be rejected by your target audience for being sloppy.

Accentuate the Positive

Attempting to punch above your weight on Tinder is one thing – the worst that can happen is that everyone swipes left – but pitching yourself far too high in the job market can seriously reduce your credibility. That said, successful job hunting is all about taking time to accentuate the positive. View yourself in a positive light and play the hell out of the hand you’ve got.

So, how best to do this? Ironically perhaps, you’ll want to reveal a little more of yourself than you might do on Tinder. Summarise your key achievements. Quantify them too: if you’ve delivered a project of specific value or managed to achieve a notable saving or reduction in spend, make sure it’s shown. Recruiters like evidence of achievement.

That doesn’t mean you need to list every single thing, and as your career progresses you can start to leave some of the detail off your CV (School Recorder Club, Swimming Badges, etc). Your resume needs to represent the detail of what you’ve achieved in recent years, and what you’re good at now, as that’s where the match is made.

Tailoring Counts

Finally, remember what’s appropriate. There are some pictures that (most) Tinder users just don’t want to see – you know what I mean, don’t make me spell it out. Unlikely though you are to put such a thing on any job application it is worth remembering what you’re applying for, and emphasising the appropriate parts of your experience to ensure you fit with the role profile.

Take the time to tailor your CV for each job application. This isn’t Tinder, where you’re putting yourself in front of a pool of millions of different requirements and may be a perfect fit for one, or some. Job hunting is all about making sure you’re the perfect fit for a particular suitor.

A little extra time and care to ensure your resume is appropriate to your application may pay dividends in the end. It did for Anna. She’s getting married next week, but not to that guy.