What’s a ‘blind spot’ you might ask? It’s a good question – in this case it refers to strengths (or perhaps weaknesses) that you don’t realise you possess!
Seeking feedback from trusted sources such as work colleagues, managers (past and present), sporting team mates or coaches, or even an honest friend or family member, can be incredibly valuable. You see, reviewing and improving your performance is vital for career development, and peer assessments typically lead to an increase in ongoing motivation to continually improve.
It can be common for us to deliver quite a critical perspective of ourselves and our competencies (strengths) in self-assessments.
Peer assessments can help balance this view for us. Similarly, many of us have ‘blind spots’ or unknown opportunities for improvement that may only become evident through a peer assessment. The ImproveMe StrengthsPlus Assessment allows you to ask up to five people to provide their assessment of you, to help uncover such blind spots.
Differing results between how you rate yourself and how a peer rates you for some questions in the StrengthsPlus Assessment creates an excellent opportunity for you to sit down and discuss the outcomes with your peer. Depending on the level of variation in your answers this can be quite a confronting discussion for both you and the peer! However if it’s approached in an open, honest, positive and constructive manner, based around a philosophy of self improvement, it can be an incredibly valuable conversation to have.
So here’s how to approach it.
Ask why they rated you as they did for the questions highlighted on the comparison email you received and listen carefully to their answer. You may find they were thinking of different examples than you were when they rated you, in which case you can ask why those examples were the ones that sprung to mind for them.
You might be able to uncover ‘blind spots’ that you have (both positive and negative) and discover important things about your skills and talents that you were not aware of before.
You’ll be amazed at what you could learn.
After your discussion with your peer, consider the new perspectives you have been given and how you can use that information as you embark on a path of self improvement.
Don’t forget to reflect back on the feedback from time to time or check in with your peer to see how their opinions may have developed or changed.
ImproveMe report highlights notable competencies and weaknesses of athletes seeking to prepare for life after sport
While athlete preparedness for the inevitable transition to life after sport has been a widely discussed issue in recent years, today’s COVID-19 affected job market and economic climate has brought it once again to the fore.
A report from ImproveMe reveals new data on the sought after skills that athletes possess, how they vary from the general population and how athletes can seek to develop their skills in order to increase their chances in the mainstream job market in future.
ImproveMe: Athlete Insights is published at a time when headcount reductions continue to impact many Australian sporting codes and the likelihood of “falling into a job” after a professional sporting career has all but disappeared for current athletes, meaning thoughtful and thorough career preparation is essential.
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What advice would you give to talented creatives in their desire to turn their passion and skill into a sustainable career? How do you keep the creativity flowing?
Several years ago I was introduced to the book “Tao de Ching” by a good friend of mine.
It’s an ancient book of Chinese philosophy / wisdom. Tao de Ching roughly translates to “The book of the Way”, or “The book of Wisdom” or “The way things are”.
This small book of 80 verses uses the tool of paradox to open your mind and show you how to see and think about things differently, and look at things from every angle. Nature is always in a state of “flow” or pure creativity. It also teaches how struggle is an illusion and isn’t necessary because nature doesn’t struggle. How to flow with the current instead of against it. To discover that we are in fact “Mother Nature” expressing herself. Like the stream of conciousness way that Jimi Hendrix played guitar or how Michael Jordan makes playing basketball at the highest level look effortless.
The more “natural” you become or the more you bring yourself into balance and respect with God and nature, the more your creativity will flow. Essentially you begin to harness the power of nature for use in your art or music. You become the process of nature flowing and unfolding. You become like water.
In a recent edition of ImproveMe’s ‘Advice from the Experts’, journalist and PR expert Anastasia Salamastrakis wrote about what she did to improve her skills, gain experience and rise above the competition whilst job seeking as a graduate in the midst of a previous recession.
It led me to think about job seekers in today’s challenging economic climate and the competition they face in the job market, what with so many Australians currently job seeking. This competition is likely to grow even more fierce when JobKeeper comes to an end.
Imagine a hiring manager looking at the resumes of two individuals whose education and past job experience is virtually identical in terms of suitability for a role being recruited. How to differentiate between the two candidates?
The hiring manager notices that since being made redundant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one candidate has completed three short courses to develop a basic level of knowledge on topics of emerging importance, used an online tool to better understand and utilise their transferable skills, attended a webinar on an industry related issue and volunteered at a service helping others impacted by the pandemic.
However, the other candidate – also made redundant due to the pandemic – does not appear to have taken any steps to develop their skills and knowledge since losing their job. If you were the hiring manager, which candidate would you likely choose to speak to first?
With this scenario in mind, what can job seekers be doing to give themselves an edge above the competition, however minor?
A search on LinkedIn, industry association websites, professional services firm websites, event sites such as eventbrite, or even just Google will bring up a range of free webinars on offer from a vast array of organisations.
Some businesses use Facebook and Instagram to advertise their free webinars too – these ones may be useful, but be warned they may also turn out to be trying to sell you something!
Try to stick to educational webinars from reputable companies that you can reference on your resume. Think about what topics would compliment your resume experience and business knowledge, then sign up to attend. Don’t forget to take notes, you never know when you might like to refer back to them to brush up on some conversation points for an interview.
Undertake online courses
There are many quality courses available online for free or at a low cost. These range from short courses that take 1 – 2 hours to complete, through to options that will see you graduate with a diploma or greater.
Coursera, Udemy and edX offer courses from leading organisations and universities all around the world, while Torrens University has around 50 short courses that are currently available for free to ImproveMe portal users until the end of the year.
Why not learn the basics of digital marketing, design thinking, artificial intelligence or other emerging topics that will be highly useful in the future of work?
Many online courses will provide a certificate as proof of your course completion, which you can use as an appendix to your resume if required.
In ‘Advice from the Experts’, Anastasia discussed volunteering at a community centre where she learnt how to deal with members of the public and provide them with accurate, timely information – skills every journalist needs.
Consider where you could volunteer your time or services. Sites such as Go Volunteer or Seek Volunteer can help you to identify opportunities that might be suitable. Think about what transferrable skills you might be able to learn – communication, leadership, critical thinking and more – when deciding which opportunities are right for you. Also make sure that the opportunity is safe (eg. allows you to maintain physical distancing) and is something you are passionate about!
Volunteering is a great option because it can allow you to develop personally whilst contributing to the community in a time of need. Added bonus – it will make you feel great!
This is a tricky one at present due to so many people working from home. However, depending on your industry of interest, gaining work experience may still be possible. If it is, reach out to individuals in your network or relevant organisations to explain your situation and ask if you can undertake one or more days of work experience with them. Offering to do so unpaid may be beneficial – why not consider it “short term pain for long term gain”?
If you are lucky enough to gain work experience, immerse yourself in the experience. Offer to help in any way possible, ask lots of questions, soak up as much information as possible and write yourself a brief journal each day of what tasks you undertook or what you learned. This information will come in handy down the track, either to add to your resume or to discuss in job interviews.
Don’t forget to reach out afterwards with a heartfelt message of thanks. You never know when they might reach back out to you with a future opportunity.
Understand your strengths
Your strengths are the skills that are going to propel you forward in your professional career. But how can you make the most of them if you don’t know what they are? The ImproveMe Competency Assessment and Development Portal are currently available for free to all Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ImproveMe Competency Assessment will help to identify your two key strengths, which you can highlight on your resume, and the Development Portal can help you develop those competencies (strengths) further, through a range of tailored learning and development opportunities.
The five ideas above are just a few of the available methods of growing your skills and experience, to legitimately expand your level of experience on your resume. If there are other ways you have seen or thought of, please share them with us via email@example.com.
It’s widely known that the experience of job seeking can be very different for those in the later stage of their career. John* is a friend of ImproveMe who is aged in his fifties and is currently job hunting. We asked him to share his key observations with us.
For those finding themselves over 50 and looking for opportunities there are several key factors to consider as careers paths in this stage of life will be different.
If you have been employed for single organisation for a long time – say over 25 years – you need to understand that these days potential employers look at tenure and “company” loyalty differently to what they did decades ago. This means some self development may be required to differentiate in the marketplace – to move away from the “one trick pony” perception that comes with being in one organisation for so long. You may find online courses from local and International learning institutions are available to enhance your skill set already achieved as an example.
If you are looking outside your initial industry of expertise, then understand how to position your experiences and achievements you have gained, so as to be seen as a value add for solutions to issues other organisations face. This may open up consulting avenues and the lifestyle changes that go with it. In this situation, a good 12 month budget needs to be considered as you may be moving from a mindset of guaranteed monthly wage to being paid for specific jobs.
If you are undertaking your job search utilising existing networks, you may need to consider expanding to recruiters – but make sure you find those that have experience in the industry you are considering. A lot of recruiters employ careers advisers that do not have the understanding to look beyond the CV and are reluctant to offer a candidate over 50 to their clients as it “falls outside the scope” of their assignment.
There are opportunities if you put yourself out there but it certainly means you will need to be flexible with your expectations as organisations and industries place different value on experience and what financial worth to apply to this segment of the employment market.
* Name has been changed to protect our contributor’s anonymity in his job search. Image used is not of our contributor. Our contributor has extensive local and international experience within prestigious global organisations such as Ford and Caterpillar. If you would like to be put in touch with him, please contact ImproveMe.