Tag Archives: procurement careers

2016 Rewind – Top Discussions – You Asked, You Answered!

The Discussions page is one of the most popular on the site. We take a look back at the questions that got you sharing in 2016.

We’re continuously blown away by the generous nature of our community. Not only do you all connect so well, but you also are willing to share all your expertise. And that’s part of the reason that Procurious was formed in the first place.

We’ve seen it all during 2016, from how to start a procurement career, to the first three jobs you ever had. We also had questions on starting a new function, maverick spend, and social media.

So we’ve brought you the most popular discussions of the year right here.

Career Discussions

It stands to reason that as procurement grows as a career, so does the number of people wanting to join the profession. One question looked at whether to start in a procurement department, or a consultancy.

The consensus was that your procurement career would be better served starting out in a procurement department. Beyond the stigma frequently attached to consultants, it provided the opportunity to build a solid base of knowledge. Then, once experience had been gained, you could look to become a consultant.

Experience is big thing when it comes to procurement roles. However, few of us have procurement experience in our first three roles. Even as it’s less likely for people to ‘fall’ into procurement, the experience we have at the start of our careers is wide and varied.

Within the community, work experience included:

  • Waitress
  • Shelf Stacker
  • Car Washer
  • Sales Assistant
  • Fruit Picker
  • Paratrooper
  • Tele-marketer
  • And even one Santa!

And to tie the career discussions off, you got involved in a question about attracting young people to procurement. While there was definitely interest in the younger generation, a lack of knowledge stood in the way.

However, with more universities and colleges offering degrees linked to procurement this should change. What do you think? Does the profession need to seem more attractive? Or are we attractive enough, just bad at selling this career?

Getting Started & Automating

Does anyone have any advice about setting up a procurement function? This particular discussion got plenty of people sharing, and some great advice on starting from scratch.

The best starting point for a function was the business model – how it would be sold to the business. Within the model, procurement’s value was mapped out, and any blockers discovered. The model could then be built out with recognisable procurement concepts.

Other things to consider included processes and policies, and consideration of sustainability. Another critical item highlighted was engagement with stakeholders. After all, these are the people you’re going to be working with closest!

From the start, to the potential end, of procurement. If procurement were automated, would we need people in the function at all? Happily, most answers agreed that irrespective of automation, there would always be a role for people in procurement.

The consensus being that procurement processes could be automated, but relationships would still be vital. And no machine would be able to outperform a human on that. Yet…

Mavericks and Social Media

Our final trending discussions looked at one age-old problem, and one new one. First up, how to eradicate, or minimise, maverick purchasing.

Two themes ran through the answers – relationships and process. Root cause analysis usually came down to one or other (or both). Either processes were too complicated, or not followed, or people outside the function didn’t understand the value of procurement.

In all cases, listening to, engaging with, and educating stakeholders was a good step to take. It helps to showcase procurement’s role, and why processes need to be followed. And, if all else fails, there’s always a taser…only kidding! (Or are we…?)

Finally, as procurement and social media come closer together, there was the question of how connected the profession is. On the back of a provocative statement from Tania Seary, you discussed whether procurement leaders should have 500+ followers.

For many, it was a case of quality over quantity for connections. Despite there being a wealth of procurement connections on social media, many professionals only connect with people who they can strike up a meaningful relationship with.

Do you agree? Is 500 an arbitrary number? Or, as a leader, have you had enough time to build up this strength of network? You can still get involved in the discussion – all while building up your network on Procurious!

Hello, Procurement Career? It’s Social Media Calling

Have you found your calling in life? Do you worry that your procurement career is getting away from you? Then you need to heed the siren call of social media.

Bachkova Natalia/Shutterstock.com

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…four calling birds.”

By now, the receiver of the true love’s gifts probably has a large aviary to keep all the birds in. Just as well really, as three of the next four days will bring even more. However, despite the song bringing us calling birds, it’s another, bluer bird we’re looking at today.

Where’s Your Career Going?

By this time of the year, most of us have decided on resolutions we’ll kick off the new year with. Starting with good intentions, we make smaller changes to how we live our lives. We might want to eat less, exercise more, or spend more time on our favourite activities. But, life tends to take over, and by mid-January, we’ve fallen back into old habits.

But for some people, this is the time of year that brings consideration about the next steps of their career. Whether it’s a change of companies, going after a promotion, or even thinking about a complete change, most people start their search on the Internet. More specifically, they’ll start to look for information and new roles on social media.

The array of sources, information, and potential employers, makes social media a major tool in an individual’s search. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (see, we told you we’d be talking about a bird…), there is plenty you can do to boost your career.

So how are you going to turn that around, and make social media work for you? We’ve been calling on our experts this year to share their thoughts on this very topic. And they haven’t disappointed.

Break Down Walls, Increase Value

During our Career Boot Camp, Jay Scheer, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at THOMASNET, highlighted what many of us have been doing wrong on social media. That is using different accounts for different areas of our lives.

However, Jay advises that we need to break down these personal silos in order to increase our digital value. In a more connected social media world, employers want to see the full picture. And individuals want to portray a more rounded image.

Breaking down the barriers is the first step. Jay also advised the following when on social media:

  1. Start thinking of yourself as a brand – project the right image to the public
  2. Be authentic and conversational – inject your personality where possible
  3. Be targeted – always consider the medium and the audience, and tailor your activity
  4. Don’t be banal – don’t post for posting’s sake
  5. Draw a line – use the grandma test for all your posts

No Avoiding the Brand

So now we know how we could be using social media, we need to know how to portray the right image. Happily, another of our experts took care of that – Procurious’ own Lisa Malone.

Lisa gives some great tips on building a ‘kick-ass’ personal brand that’s bound to get you noticed. And if you’re looking for a new job, or to showcase why that promotion should be yours, then getting noticed is what you need.

From authenticity and injecting a bit of colour into your profile, to connecting with top people (and then leveraging those connections), there’s plenty here to get you started.

Personal brand is key on social media. And if we all take the time to boost our personal brand, then the brand of procurement will benefit too. We’ve got plenty of tips and tricks that we’ve shared.

But perhaps the biggest is the importance of a great profile picture. If you do one thing the next time you’re on Procurious, check out your picture, and see if a change will do you good.

What are you waiting for? If you hear a new job calling for the new year, or just want to give your social media accounts a spit and polish, now’s the time. You never know if that perfect job is just around the corner, but at least you’ll be ready!

Knowledge is worth its weight in gold. So how can you boost your procurement knowledge using some economic basics? Make sure you come back tomorrow to find out.

My 5 Killer Job Interview Questions

How do you separate the diamonds from the rough in your next recruitment process? Do you have the killer questions to help?

Stokkete/Shutterstock.com

When I started all my businesses (The Faculty, The Source, and Procurious) I declared that I was building a culture, not a company.

Culture can’t be forced, but it also doesn’t happen organically. It stems from recruitment. It’s not always the best person, but the right person for the job, that can help foster company culture.

Leadership experience, technical skills and cultural fit are all important here, so how can you recruit someone that ticks all three boxes?

From all my years of playing interviewer, I’ve compiled five killer questions that separate the diamonds from the rough.

1. The “Tipping Point” Question

“What were the reasons for leaving your current job?”

Asking a potential employee why they decided to leave their job provides good insight into what makes them tick. It also highlights their personality and gives you a definite indication of what they don’t want to happen in their new job.

It’s also a good question to ask in exit interviews to ensure your business can learn from its mistakes.

2. The “Leader of the Pack” Question

“Tell me about something you’ve lead – a group, a team, a movement, an initiative…any situation where you were in the lead?”

This question resulted in the most surprising interview response ever. When I first established The Source, my procurement recruitment company, I was interviewing for the Managing Director role.

When I asked this question, one of the candidates paused and then answered, “I once led a revolt against management in a manufacturing company I worked for.” Wrong answer.

3. The “Mentor Me” Question

“Tell me about some people you’ve mentored and what they are doing now?”

If people stumble on this question, they obviously don’t have a track record in developing people. Furthermore, if they can’t talk to what their mentees are doing now, they really weren’t genuinely committed and interested in that person’s development enough to keep track of their progress.

4. The “Question” Question

“Do you have any more questions?”

I always want people to have lots of questions. And not just about them – their pay, their hours, the role and where they’ll sit – but about the business, about the industry, the issues we are facing, about our future.

To be successful in any business, people need to be genuinely concerned about their profession or industry, not just their own career development.

5. The “One Word” Question

One of my mentors gave me this tip. One of her interview questions was:

“If your friends could summarise you in one word, what would that word be?”

This question is great because it allows the candidate to drill down to the one attribute they represent but also aspire to be.

Want to hire someone who describes him or herself as “encouraging” or “meticulous”? Of course you do. Someone who describes him or herself as “Chatty” or “Brilliant”? Didn’t think so.

Reflect on Your Questions

So you’ve asked your questions, the interview is complete and you look to move onto the next candidate. Before you do so, remember the final important step – reflect.

This was a key piece of advice I received from one of our recruitment experts at The Source. It’s important to reflect on the candidate’s responses and behaviour to help determine where they fit in the organisation.

Hiring managers should always consider their current and desired workplace culture, and think about how the candidate fits in.

To do this, I often ask myself:

  • What were the energy levels like? Did the candidate have energy – physical, mental and spiritual (I know, sounds spooky…but think about it!)?
  • Did the conversation flow? Was the candidate both interesting and interested? Did I struggle to follow what they were sharing? Was the conversation stilted?
  • Would the person be a good representative of the team? Here, I’m talking about their values and approach, as well as the way they communicate and present.

With these interview questions in your repertoire plus some “reflection” time, you will be on your way to recruitment success.

Ask Not What You Can Do for Your Organisation

But what your organisation can do for you. And these tips should point you in the direction of a great employer.

jfk organisation

For a decade or more, the economy has very much been a hiring manager’s market. A number of economic events culminating in the GFC made it increasingly difficult for even the most qualified candidates to find a position. But not anymore.

Thanks to a host of economic upturns, more and more jobs are appearing. Finally applicants can ask: “What can an organisation do for me?”

These days, it is important for employers to consider how they can work to better their workforce. Career management is no longer the sole responsibility of the worker; companies must consider how to lend their employees support.

As a job candidate, you should look for organisations that are eager to learn your goals and aspirations, and provide backing and encouragement to help you achieve them. More specifically, you should search for an employer willing to do the following for the sake of your career:

Understand Your Intended Path

As a human being, you have personal and professional goals. Often, those goals include a specific career path culminating in a prestigious job title with important responsibilities and generous benefits.

From the very beginning of your employment, your employer should be eager to learn your goals and pave the way for you to achieve them.

As you endure the job-hunting process, you should explain your personal and professional plan to every prospective employer. The most promising employers will respond with information on career paths through their organisations, available career-boosting tools or programs, and (most importantly) a commitment of support for your goals.

Those who seem uninterested in your goals will not do anything to help you achieve them.

Adapt Roles and Responsibilities

Though you might not expect an entry-level position to be handcrafted to match your abilities and interests, as you head into your mid-career, your employer should begin adapting your role and responsibilities to suit your preferences and skills.

In fact, ideal organisations will be able to assess your strengths and weaknesses and provide opportunities for you to develop those abilities you will need to enhance your career and achieve your professional goals.

During the interview process, you might ask about the possibility of you gaining a hand in the development of your work responsibilities as you gain experience within the organisation.

Offer Necessary Resources

Regardless of your career goals, your organisation can dramatically improve your chances of success by connecting you with valuable resources.

Perhaps most importantly, your employer should have a programme to support the continued education of its staff. This can be through workplace seminars or tuition reimbursement.

Flex time will help you pursue advanced education, like a master’s of organisational leadership degree, that could qualify you for top positions at your organisation while also improving your skill set for the company.

Additionally, you might look for an employer that boasts a mentorship programme. This way, you can build relationships with important figures at your company and gain career-boosting opportunities.

Be Respectful and Compassionate

It is entirely likely that your goals will change during your career. It’s imperative that you find an employer who won’t disrespect your choice, or react extremely and destroy your opportunities for success.

Employers should recognise the value of investing in employees, who will undoubtedly become valuable assets or allies in their future positions – regardless of whether those positions are inside or outside the organisation.

It isn’t difficult to identify companies who lack compassion for their workers. You can often find evidence of poor treatment on ratings websites like Glassdoor.

Most organisations think first of the profit margins, second of the customers, and third of their employees. In years past, companies had little reason to worry about workers leaving for better jobs, because the potential for finding alternative reliable employment was low.

However, if we expect the current trend of job growth to continue – which it should, given the strength of the economy and imminent retirement of baby boomers – employers must begin to consider the health and happiness of individual employees.

Being kind and supportive, having tools for personal and professional improvement, and remaining flexible in roles and rules are the hallmarks of organisations that treat their workers well. You should keep an eye out for job opportunities with companies like these.

Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content throughout the World Wide Web. Tiffany prides herself in her strong ability to provide high quality content that readers will find valuable.

Getting the Smartest Guys in the Room

Is it just me, or does it feel like procurement is forever running in circles? We’re spending a lot of time worrying about whether we are ‘at the table’, when the real question might be, “Are we on the menu?”

Pumidol/Shutterstock.com

Last year I had a one of those rare “A-ha!” moments. I was chatting to a CFO of a global company, with 50,000 people working across more than 30 countries.

He was in the middle of a major cost transformation and I asked him whether procurement was playing a leading role. He said he didn’t know.

More than a little surprised, I asked him politely how was it that he didn’t know. He responded:

“Well, when we have our team updates it’s usually via Halo and all I see is a group of faces. I really don’t care whether they’re from HR, Operations, Finance or Procurement. All I care is that I’ve got the smartest guys in the room, solving our problems.”

And that was my A-ha! moment.

Quality Rises to the Top

Procurement shouldn’t fret about promoting its brand or carefully crafting a value proposition because ultimately, the quality of our people will speak for itself. What we need to ensure is that we get the smartest people onto “Team Procurement”.

Today at ProcureCon Europe I’m sharing three short, sharp “big ideas” for how procurement can get the smartest guys in the room.

1. Set Daring Talent KPIs

The power of KPIs has become a hot topic among the Procurious community with discussions about how metrics can be used to influence procurement’s perception within the business.

In my blog article ‘Measuring the Unmeasurable‘, I suggested we ought to measure how many members of the Procurement team are promoted to enterprise-wide leadership development programs. You know, those rising star or high potential programmes. (When I was working in corporate, we called it “charm school”).

If CPOs were brave enough to call out this KPI as your bold aspiration for their team, it would have a double-whammy effect. Firstly, it would promote procurement internally as a source of real leadership talent. Secondly, it would increase procurement’s level of attractive proposition for ambitious candidates looking to really ‘get somewhere’ in their career.

2. Find a Millennial Mentor

If you want to attract the brightest stars, you need to understand how the next generation of talent thinks. One of the best ways to doing this is to find yourself a millennial mentor.

I have had more than a few millennial mentors in recent years who have taught me two important lessons. One, there is enormous power in social media. And, two, why job selection is more about their boss and how likely they are to champion and influence on their behalf, rather than the company itself.

At Procurious, we believe there is a direct correlation between the strength of your online brand and the calibre of millennial talent you attract to your organisation.  Put simply, in the minds’ of millennials: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist”.

3. Incubate Intrapreneurs

Leading global CPOs are not paid to reduce costs – they are paid to drive change. But implementing ‘big ideas’ in big companies is not easy, as we were reminded last year at The Big Ideas Summit by Rio Tinto’s Finance Director, Chris Lynch.

If you want to get the smartest guys in the room, you need to find and develop people who think and act like entrepreneurs, but can still work and importantly, get things done in a corporate environment.

Some questions worth asking yourself:

  • What are you doing today to promote the image of your team as “entrepreneurial”?
  • Are you attracting candidates who can innovate?
  • Do you have a culture that will enable ‘intrapreneurs’ to thrive and gain momentum?
  • Are your stakeholders willing to embrace entrepreneurialism?

What’s your plan for getting the smartest guys in the room?

Are You Sitting Comfortably? Then I’ll Begin…

Treat your next interview like you’re telling a story. Make it engaging. Make it clear. But most of all, make it memorable.

Once upon a time in an office block not too far away, our hero/heroine walked into the most exciting and biggest interview of their career…

For me, a successful interview is like reading an enjoyable story. Stories “create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means leaders who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others”(1).

I consistently advise people that I have represented to have their own story and message when attending an interview. An engaging and memorable story resonates with the reader; it holds our attention, keeps the pages turning and becomes memorable in the mind of the reader.

Here are a few points to think about.

The beginning of the story…AKA first impressions.

A great story has a strong start. So if you get an opening question like, “So, tell me about yourself?” or, “So, why are you interested in this role/company”, then start well. Through your opening 2-5 minutes, generate interest and attention in the mind of your ‘reader’.

Use language that feels right for your career story. I think it never hurts to describe things simply but effectively. Try to use words that add zest to your experience and motivations. Just try not to over complicate the ‘plot’.

Don’t lose your reader, keep those pages turning.

What is your message in your story?

Understand what the challenges of the role are, and what are the current and future demands on the organisation. Your recruiter and your own research will help you understand this.

Settle on your ultimate message, then you can figure out the best way to illustrate it at interview. Use your career story to invoke a clear connection between what value and experience you bring and how you can harness that experience for your new prospective Employer. Make the Interviewer want to know the story behind your career. Characterise yourself positively.

Be true to your IQ and that of your audience.

It would be foolish to underestimate your audience. Your interviewer is looking to hear information on your career experience that resonates with them.

They will want to understand you as a character and what you offer and stand for, so never dumb down your message or yourself. Make your story relevant and credible.

Maintain pace, select an appropriate momentum

I’ve heard on too many occasions from hiring managers that an Interviewee started amazingly well, then petered out after 20 minutes. 10 times out of 10, the hiring manager is terribly disappointed – ”Gee, they started so well, we thought we had found our perfect candidate!”.

Like any strong story, start well, maintain the plot, maintain clarity and consistency through each chapter (or job).

Don’t lose the reader, keep those pages turning.

To do this, you must be well prepared. You must have planned your storyline, organised and detailed all sub-plots, and all the characters in your career history. It has to remain relevant to your ultimate message.

A strong ending

Many an interview can lose its way with a fluffy and overly elaborate ending. Be concise and finish strongly. Be positive, perhaps even bold. Don’t fade out with a whimper.

Ask yourself, how many times have you commented on poor or lacklustre ending to a book that you have read. I bet you can remember how that ending made your feel years after reading it. I’ll even bet you never read, or recommended, that story to anyone again!

  1. Extract from the Harvard Business Review – ‘How To Tell A Great Story‘.

The Source is a specialist Procurement mid to senior and executive recruitment and search firm with national reach. We provide tailored contract and permanent recruitment solutions to leading organisations in the Australian market.

How to Strike Gold When Seeking a Mentor

Finding a mentor is no longer limited to new starts. Now senior leaders are seeking the benefits of a two-way mentoring relationship.

This article first appeared in Women’s Agenda.

I am 45 years old and own three businesses. Yet I’ve had three mentors in the past three months. A chairman, who is helping me navigate the new territory of being an international business owner, and two 25 year-olds who have coaxed and coached me on the power of social media.

Mentoring, it never sleeps.

Apparently I’m not the only “experienced” leader who has sought out a more junior executive to be my mentor. Reverse mentoring has become a bit of a trend.

Procurement and business leaders are facing a race to unearth new opportunities and remain relevant in a rapidly changing digital economy. This is causing a shift in the traditional mentoring framework – senior mentor coaching junior mentee – to one that is more collaborative and co-creative.

That’s not to mean traditional mentor relationships should be thrown out. My first mentor was the traditional type. She was someone I respected, who was more senior than me, who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes.

But the lines are blurring. Whether it’s someone with years of experience under their belt or someone with less years than yourself, finding the right mentor fit is key.

Today, many Millennials seem obsessed with finding a mentor, convinced that it is the magic key to career advancement. Sheryl Sandberg, makes the following observation in her book, Lean In:

“I realised that searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming,” she writes.

“We all grew up on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after.”

The important truth is that mentors find you, not the other way around. Sandberg believes we need to stop telling mentees, “Get a mentor and you will excel.” Instead, we need to tell them, “Excel and you will get a mentor.”

So how can you increase your chances of a great mentor relationship?

1. Check that you don’t already have a mentor

Sometimes in large organisations there are lots of people advocating for you – you just don’t realise it. Open your eyes and ears to people who may already be informally mentoring you.

2. Get to know yourself and pinpoint where you need to grow

Self-awareness is one of the most valuable traits you can develop as a leader. We can all be our own greatest critics, but we need to take an honest look in the mirror and really understand and reconcile our opportunities for development.

Sometimes we can be attracted to people who are actually a lot like ourselves, when in reality we need advice from people who have strengths in areas we don’t.

3. Be brave and find an “unreasonable friend”

One of the key take outs I got from Craig Harper, High Performance Coach and Exercise Scientist, was that everyone needs an unreasonable friend. That is someone who just won’t tell us what we WANT to hear, but what we NEED to hear.

We need to be brave enough to have someone like this in our lives, and really take their feedback onboard.

4. Relax and let the relationship unfold

If you consciously know that you want a mentor, you will unconsciously seek out that person. Don’t push the universe too much. Wait for your mentor to evolve naturally, then cultivate the relationship in a measured, professional way.

5. You don’t need just one mentor

Don’t feel like you need just one person to give you the answers to all your development questions. We are surrounded by amazing people that we can learn different things from every day. I’m a prime example of that as I learn from people from all walks of my life!

The great mentors of my life have not been created through formal relationships. They have been created in the workplace based on mutual respect, my desire to learn and my mentor’s willingness to share knowledge, promote me to others and, most importantly, help me believe in myself.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #19 – Challenging Traditional Recruitment

One procurement recruiter says the onus is on them to change traditional recruitment practice to uncover new talent.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Time to Change Traditional Recruitment

Lee Gudgeon, Client Engagement Director at REED Global, says that the increasing role of procurement has highlighted a shortage of candidates with the right skill sets available to come into the profession.

Lee argues that procurement recruiters also need to up-skill to drive new practices. This will allow them to recognise relevant skills and capabilities required in procurement, in other functions, and open up the market to people that might otherwise have been overlooked.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

Change Your Career Thinking

Did you enjoy Lee’s Big Idea? Are you thinking about a change in career? Then take a look at the Procurious Career Boot Camp.

Our Career Coaches are challenging procurement professionals to make a positive change to their careers. You can hear all our podcasts, and read all our great content by enlisting here.

Catch up on topics from becoming a CPO, and taking your conscience to work, to increasing your cultural intelligence in procurement, and many more.

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 17,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Treading the Fine Line Between Assertive and Aggressive

What is the difference between assertive and aggressive, and why does it matter in job interviews? 

Luis Carlos Torres/Shutterstock.com

Assertiveness is saying what you mean without being impolite, asking for what you want without making demands. Assertive behaviour helps you to avoid being manipulated or put off easily. This style is far more likely to create a positive impression than either aggressiveness or non-assertion.

Aggressiveness means that you stand out, but not in a good way. Being overly pushy or contrary will probably irritate and alienate the interviewer. You may get what you want in the short term but it may hinder your progress later. On the other hand, passive or non-assertive behaviour can lead to a loss of your self-respect. This is where you let others get their own way and make yourself into a walkover.

It has been reported that interviewers reach a decision about an applicant within five minutes after meeting them. In this time there is little more to evaluate than how you look and speak, how you carry yourself, and how you greeted the interviewer, all clear indicators of your level of self-confidence.

Being confidently assertive helps you reduce the stress in an interview situation and to exercise more control over your working life. Here are three ways to sail through the interview assertively.

  1. Prepare well

It’s a bit like preparing for negotiations. Research your interviewer and the organisation you are intending to work for. Know how to respond to those difficult, and sometimes inane, questions, like what would you do in a conflict situation or what makes you the best candidate for this job. Remember that assertive behaviour is not specifically designed to get you what you want in every situation; in fact, it involves negotiation and compromise.

Bring your notes and don’t be afraid to use them. It makes you look well-prepared. If something of interest is mentioned about the job, pause and write it down. Be professional and be the best prepared candidate they are likely to interview.

  1. Practice your success stories

It is crucial to create a strategy for communicating your accomplishments to your interviewer in a succinct and memorable fashion.  Do you have a C.A.R?  Skilled interviewers will look for proof of your stated achievements by drilling down into the details of what you say you have accomplished.

C.A.R. stands for Challenge » Action » Result.  Write down a few gems relating to work areas that will come up in the interview. By dropping a story into the conversation you can showcase the action that you took to overcome a problem and can demonstrate to your interviewer that you achieved the desired result.

Mini-stories should be succinct and limited only to relevant details, just a few sentences. They will allow you to share examples of your past successes and let your actions speak.

  1. Polish your communication skills

Candidates demonstrate their assertiveness by the questions they ask, as well as the questions they answer. One trait employers look for is the ability to communicate effectively at all levels in an organisation. Being too tentative with senior managers is not a good sign.  People are just people, so speak with confidence and show a positive attitude but with respect.

Come prepared with questions about the job, such as expected results after the first year, where it fits into the organisation and what happened to the person who had the job before. Practice your questions as well as your answers in preparation for your interview.

Speak clearly and use good diction at a reasonable volume. Talking too quickly and loudly is not being assertive, it shows nervousness. Non-verbal cues influence an interviewer’s impression of you just as much your words do, so keep up the eye contact. Express your opinions honestly, but wisely.

What the recruiters say

Candidates show a poor level of assertiveness when they:

  • Show a lack of confidence in expressing achievements and abilities
  • Sound unsure of themselves when answering questions
  • Are overly agreeable to everything said by the interviewer
  • Trail off or mumble instead of clearly completing a thought

At the end of the interview, ask what’s next in the hiring process.  You may not get a straight answer but it is clear that you want to know.

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. 

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.