Rocket Fuel For The Soul – Take Aim and Shoot for the Stars!

Rocket Fuel for the SoulA new contact of mine Annalieza Landa (Twitter: @allysimone) kindly said that my recent A to Z of Inspirational People was ‘Rocket Fuel For The Soul!’ Obviously that put a big smile on my face, because it’s always great to  get good feedback. But more than that, I love the power of this phrase and Annalieza has kindly let me use it for the title of this post – I hope I do it justice!

So, now I’ve stolen with pride, what does ‘Rocket Fuel For The Soul’ mean to you? Getting a rocket to take off, break the earth’s atmosphere and beyond our solar system to the stars takes a huge amount of planning, energy, determination and investment. So it is for us as individuals if we want to shoot for the stars in our lives!

In putting this post together, it made me think about all of the elements in my life that really give me, and my soul, a boost of energy – people and relationships that are important to me, places that I love to return to, nature in its many forms, hobbies that I enjoy and successful projects I’m working on and so on. I’ve talked about energy in several other posts and quite specifically in High Energy, High Performance where I explained that Personal Energy is made up of a number of types of energy:

Personal Energy = Physical Energy + Mental Energy + Emotional Energy + Spiritual Energy

To shoot for the stars, you need more than the basic fundamentals of life and energy to get there. If you’ve been a Think Oak! reader for a while, you know my passion for having goals. Well that applies managing your Personal Energy too. Take a look at the following list of GREAT GOALS that provide ‘Rocket Fuel for the Soul’ and will help you on your journey to the stars!

G – Goals themselves and their importance in energy management

Goal setting is a powerful tool to change the quality of your life AND bring you renewed energy. It is valuable in your academic life, personal life, business life and for your health too.  Goal setting identifies to both your conscious mind and your unconscious mind what it is you wish to achieve. Many academic studies have proved that setting clear and precise goals can have a significant impact on your life. One of the most compelling pieces of evidence of the power of goal setting is from the 1953 study of the Yale University graduate class that found only 3% of them had written goals.  A follow-up 20 years later found that this 3% had a combined wealth exceeding all the other 97% put together!

To really get the most from goal setting, there are 5 steps you should think seriously about following:

  1. Decide exactly what you want from life
  2. Write your goals down AND put a time-frame on them
  3. Break your goals down into milestones and if necessary inch-pebbles – with target dates!
  4. Prioritise your goals, milestones and inch-pebbles
  5. Start TODAY and act against at least one of your goals every day

It works. Try it. TODAY. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish in just one month!

R – Relationships and the importance of making them stronger

As Mark Twain said…”Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that. The really great make you feel that you too can become great.”

Surrounding yourself with the right people will have a hugely positive impact on your spiritual and emotional energy. Building strong and lasting relationships with these people can take your life to a whole new level.

Negative people, or ‘Energy Vampires’ as I like to call them, can have a major impact for the worse in your life. If you’re spending large amounts of time with people who constantly bemoan their situation and blame everyone and everything for their situation can easily drag you down to their level. Try a little test that will prove my point. Whilst you’re out and about, ask friends and colleagues how they are. Watch closely for your inward reaction to their response. If someone, says ‘Great thanks. I’m having a really good day!’, how does that make you feel versus the person that gives a 10 minute diatribe on how bad their life is, how horrible their partner is, how bad work is and finally how there’s nothing at all they can do about it. I think you’ll be amazed at the results. I know, that when I first came across this phenomena, and the positive and negative impact that it had on me, I had some serious decisions to make about who I spent time with.

Surrounding yourself with positive and ‘successful’ people can really add fuel to the rocket that is your soul. I put successful in quotes because we all have a different view of what successful is. But whatever your criteria, investing in building strong relationships with people who you admire, can learn from and whose company you enjoy, will make a big difference in your life and your attitude to it.

E –  Exercise your mind as well as your body

We all know that looking after your body is important. Some of us do exercise and treat our bodies well, and some of us don’t, but we all know the consequences! I won’t dwell on this, as there are plenty of people more qualified than I to advise you.

Looking after your mind, however, and exercising that every day, can give you a huge boost in your personal and professional life. Many of us leave school, college or university thinking that that’s the end of study and we’re set for life. Not so. It’s so important to continue to invest in your skills and education throughout our life. Investing an hour or two per day in yourself can have a stratospheric impact on your career, your business, your aspirations and your thoughts and ideas.

I’m hearing shouts of ‘Where on earth am I going to find an hour or two per day? I’m already hugely busy!’ Well, many of us spend between 250 – 500 or more hours per year commuting to and from work. By using this time reading books or listening to audiobooks and podcasts you can get the equivalent of 14 weeks learning within a year! Add to that the hours of television you might watch in a day, week, month or year and you’ll immediately start to wonder how on earth you’ve missed out on this opportunity in your life. I started this process about a year ago and haven’t looked back. Give it a try!

A – Appreciate the world around you

How often do you take time to appreciate what you have in life? – Your family, your friends, the countryside, your town or city, your home, your garden…all the things we all sometimes take for granted. Taking just a few minutes a day, at the start or the end of the day work best, to be thankful for what you have, gives you that kick-start to the day or helps you to go to sleep that little bit brighter.

Spending time exploring new places or even your own village, town or city helps bring new perspectives and ideas. More than this though, spending quality time with the people we love or in places we love or ideally both,  help us re-energise us much more than a good night’s sleep (although that’s important too!).

T – Take time for you

We all live very busy lives, and many of us have people who depend on us – our customers, our boss, our colleagues, our families, our friends, our communities. I could go on. Many people seldom make time for themselves because demands on their life are so high or because they feel selfish by taking time out. Spending time by yourself can actually reduce the risk of burnout and stress and more importantly helps you to put some perspective on life. Some people find that spending 20-30 minutes per day meditating really helps them with balance in their lives, for others it might be a run or a cycle ride, for others, like myself, a walking weekend in the mountains a few times a year. Find whatever helps you truly relax and get started!

G – Give of yourself to others

Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote: “Souls are like athletes who need opponents worthy of them if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers.” That’s an insightful analogy, for just as your muscles weaken without physical exercise, and skills weaken without practice and learning, so does your soul weaken without its special kinds of exercise. A great exercise for your soul is the practice of giving. As with physical exercise, the more you do it, the easier it is, and the stronger you will become.

What are the benefits of giving? Here are some of the things you can gain by making giving a greater part of your life:

  • Creating new relationships
  • A sense of empowerment, pride, and accomplishment
  • Happiness that you’ve impacted someone’s life positively
  • Maybe learned some new skills along the way

The paradox is that when you give expecting a reward, you won’t receive one. When you give with joy and selflessness, you benefit greatly. The attitude you bring to your giving will reflect the benefits you gain.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston Churchill

Giving of yourself could be in your local community, becoming a personal mentor for someone, doing a sponsored event for charity or even writing a blog to help other people develop!

O – Organise Yourself

The Pareto Principle (The 80/20 rule) states that in many things, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.

Studies over the years have observed this rule in action in many different spheres of life.

Some examples:

Business: 20 percent of customers will account for 80 percent of profit.

Relationships: Twenty percent of the people you know (friends, colleagues, family) provide you with 80 percent of nurturing support and satisfaction.

Productivity: Twenty percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your success.

How can we put the 80/20 principle to good use?
The Pareto principle is great to increase focus. Don’t try to do more. Just do more of the right things. If you have a lot of work to do, break it down to specific activities and figure out what twenty percent of the tasks listed contributes to eighty percent of the results you seek. Second, give your maximum concentration to those 20 percent tasks.

So how do you know if you’re working on the twenty percent that really matters?

It makes you feel good because you are doing what you always wanted or you know it’ll help with your goals.

You are doing the tasks that you’d like to procrastinate, but know that it is essential.

You delegate tasks to others that you aren’t good at.

You are doing something that uses your creativity
Hints that you aren’t utilising your time effectively:

You are doing things that other people want you to do.

You are doing things that you aren’t good at.

You are doing things you don’t enjoy doing (provided that it doesn’t also contribute to your goals).

You are doing things that always take you a lot of time and energy.
With a little effort, and the application of the 80-20 rule, we can save a lot of our emotional and physical energy to concentrate on stuffs that really matter and enrich our life.

A – Attitude is the engine that keeps you going, but like any engine, you need to maintain it

Think Oak Methodology outlines Four A’s for Success – Aptitude, Accountability, Anticipation and Attitude

Aptitude is our ability, talent or competency that we have honed and practised (or not) to do a particular task or role.

Accountability is us taking ownership for our actions, but more importantly our own lives.

Anticipation is our ability to think from the future and anticipate the markets we operate in or what we need to be planning for in our own lives.

Attitude is the engine that drives us to success. With a poor attitude, you’ll be very lucky to even take off, never mind get where you want to go.

In a previous post ‘Aptitude or Attitude~ What makes a Star Performer?’ I covered some of the key attitudes that will get you off the launch pad and beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, but there are two more things you’ll need to help you reach the stars!

L – Love Yourself

All of us at one time or another have self-doubt, are afraid of something or afraid to do something. Sometimes we may not like ourselves very much. But before we can truly be happy and successful loving yourself has to be a priority. Easier said than done, I know.

We’re taught by western society that our worth is found in the ‘core’ of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.

If you base your self-worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love. Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”

Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will raise the bar. It’s really important that you recognise when this is happening and put actions in place to reverse the process.

I’ve covered some of these areas in the Self-limiting Belief series (part 1, part 2), but there are other great sources available for you read that I’ve come across. One particular recommendation would be ‘The Chimp Paradox‘ by Doctor Steve Peters.

S – Stay Positive

Finally, on your journey to the stars you are bound to experience some bumps, turbulence, diversions and set-backs. Just remember that each of these is an opportunity to learn. Einstein famously said: “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” When you’re hit by a meteorite on your journey to the stars, see what you can learn from the experience, re-plan if necessary, change course if necessary, refuel and set-off again with focus on the end destination.

“Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow.” ~ Seth Godin

I’m hoping that these 10 focus areas will help you in your personal and business life, and give you a little Rocket Fuel for the Soul.

A to Z of Employability

A to Z Employability

I often get asked by teachers, lecturers and students what are the key skills and qualities that businesses are looking for in young people leaving full-time education for a career in business. In this A – Z I’d like to give some pointers on the very important topic of Employability. I would suggest that there are some people already in business, who are looking to progress their career that could also enhance their skills in some of these areas covered in this post.

A – Attitude

A positive attitude is the key foundation for employability – this can be summed up as a ‘can-do’ approach, a readiness to take part and contribute, openness to new ideas and a drive to make those ideas happen.

B – Behaviours

I’ve listed below some of the key behaviours I would expect to see in any of my employees:

Being courteous and having good manners

Being punctual for meetings

Generous listening of others

Honesty – always be up front

C – Commitment

If you commit to something, then follow through with it. If you do what you say you’ll do, and consistently, you will quickly be recognised as someone who can be trusted to get the job done.

D – Digitally Literate

The nature of knowledge is changing and, in this digital age, our definition of basic literacy urgently needs expanding. With an estimated 90% of UK jobs requiring some level of IT competency, the notion of digital literacy – those capabilities that equip an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society – is one that needs to be taken seriously by schools, colleges and universities. In fact, 16 million people in the UK aged 15 and over still don’t have basic on-line Skills.

Examples of Digital Literacy:

  • Understanding how to use web browsers, search engines, email, text, wiki, desktop publishing, and office software such as spreadsheets, word processors, presentation suites and databases.
  • The ability to evaluate on-line resources for accuracy/trustworthiness of information.
  • Understanding of social media and on-line etiquette
  • Ability to use basic hardware such as projectors, electronic whiteboards, printers and so on.

E – Enthusiastic

Whether you are just starting out in the workplace or you are looking to further your career, enthusiasm for work and the organisation you are targeting is hugely important.

Interviewers / hiring managers love enthusiastic people. They love them because they convey a sense that they will go the extra mile to excel in the role. They’ll do everything on the job description and a bit more.

F – Flexible

Flexibility of an employee is very high on my personal list of qualities I am looking for in candidates for any role. Someone who is prepared to roll their sleeves up to help someone meet a deadline or take on extra responsibility for a special project, even if it’s not their job, will get noticed for all the right reasons.  Going the extra mile for internal or external customers and being willing to adapt to change is crucial for many roles and many organisations.

G – Goal Oriented

People who know what they want are always more likely to get it. The most successful people in business are those who have clear goals to aim for. So decide right now what your goals are in terms of income, lifestyle, and so on. When your goals are clear in your own mind, you dramatically increase your chances of reaching them. In other words, you need to be organised, deadline driven, and do NOT always rely on others to give you a task.

H – Helping Others

Whether it’s showing someone how to insert a picture into a presentation or proof-reading a proposal, helping other people is a great way to build relationships, shows a willingness to succeed and increases the likelihood of you receiving help when you need it. We all need help sometimes!

I – Impact

Presenting a strong, competent, positive image to others throughout your career is important. Having the ability to converse confidently one on one and in groups is something the majority of people need to do in their careers. It’s worth investing time and effort in working on you presentation skills early!

J – Judgement

Judgement is needed for any job. The ability to make a sound decision based on the facts and implement a plan can make the difference between failure and success. Assessing the strength of your judgement skills and those of others can help you learn to improve your chances of employment and success.

K – Knowledgeable

Whilst you can learn many things on the job, any role will demand a certain base level of knowledge. The more knowledge you can build up about your chosen career path, the better. Whatever field you are looking to work in, there will be boundless information already published on-line and in periodicals. Get into the habit early of reading around your industry vertical and keep up-to-date. As an employer, you can tell very quickly who is well-read and informed and who isn’t.

L – Learner

Each of us can always learn and learn every day.  You can learn from people in your teams, your customer interactions, a mentor, your business network, podcasts as well as from reading and more formal structured training. Make learning a habit that you never break.

M – Manage Your Time

Time management is the effective use of a range of skills, tools and techniques used to organise or manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals. Effective time management is underpinned by a range of additional skills which include planning, allocating, goal setting, delegation, monitoring and analysis of time spent, organising, scheduling and prioritising. In most roles you will be expected to juggle all of your work load and hit deadlines.

N – Numeracy Skills

Numeracy involves an understanding of numerical data, statistics and graphs, it is also part of making decisions and reasoning.  Numeracy skills are very important, irrespective of whether you consider a job to be “working with numbers”. Having competence and being confident in working with numbers is a skill that can be used to your advantage in a wide range of employment settings. For example, knowing how profitable a company is, understanding value for money for purchasing and ordering supplies, following a budget or just calculating your holiday time. Being able to understand and analyse data in different formats is considered an essential skill in many organisations.

O – Organised

Being organised is a requisite for any job that involves other people or working to time frames. Employers will want to know that you can be relied on to deliver projects and information on schedule. It’s largely about being logical and controlled.

P – Professional

It is important to remain professional at all times when engaged in a business environment, whether for an organisation or your own business. Being professional not only lets people know you are a reputable person to work with, but also conveys intelligence and poise regarding your position.

People who are professional are unfailingly polite, courteous and well-spoken, no matter what the situation. Being professional means you keep your cool and remain calm under any circumstances. No matter how upset a co-worker or customer makes you, you don’t react; you deal with the situation rationally and calmly.

Q – Quality of Work

Maintaining a high quality of work is essential in the workplace. People do not expect to have to check grammar and spelling, spreadsheet formulae, formatting of documents or monitor your work rate on an hourly basis. Assuming you have been trained on the task at hand, you are expected to perform your work with minimum intervention.

R – Resourcefulness

With the recession forcing us to make do with what we have, being resourceful is now a necessary skill for today’s generation of leaders AND employees. It is not simply a matter of doing more with less. It’s about being able to find innovative solutions to problems; it’s about thinking about things differently and about calling on creativity and imagination to get better results with limited resource. Being able to demonstrate this skill will push you further in your career faster than many other qualities listed here.

S – Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to recognise moods, emotions, and drivers of our behaviour and understand their impact on others and your job performance. People with strong self-awareness not only are able to identify their feelings but also understand why those feelings occur. They are also aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are not afraid to talk about them. That awareness also helps them avoid setting themselves for failures due to overpromising or overstretching on tasks.

T – Teamwork

All employers are keen to recruit people who are able to co-operate and work in teams. As less hierarchical organisations have emerged with project teams, self-managed work teams and management teams, so the requirements to ‘Get on well with people’, and to ‘Work with and through others’ become increasingly important.

Teamwork involves working confidently within a group, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive – rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others.

U – Understand the Business

I’m amazed when someone comes to interview and hasn’t researched the company, looked into recent successes or in some cases even clicked around the company website. This tells me that they’re not enthusiastic about joining my team.

Managers expect their team members to be interested in their business, understand the organisation’s vision and values, as well as the key goals and metrics of their department.

V – Verbal Communication

Effective spoken communication requires being able to express your ideas and views clearly, confidently and concisely in speech, tailoring your content and style to the audience.

Be clear and concise – Vary your tone, pace and volume to enhance the communication and encourage questions

Persuading and Negotiating – Arriving at an agreement that is agreeable to both sides: a Win-Win situation. Back up your points with logic. Show tact to those you disagree with.

Making a speech in front of an audience – presenting your message in an interesting way, structuring your presentation, using audio-visual aids effectively and building a rapport with your audience.

Communicating effectively in a team – Giving and receiving feedback, listening to what others are saying and often more importantly, what they’re not saying as well as motivating and supporting others are key skills you can work on.

W – Written Communication

All organisations rely on some form of written communication, so you can increase your employability by developing strong skills related to writing reports, composing concise and effective emails, and courteous, compelling correspondence with suppliers and customers. Employers want to see evidence that potential employees have mastered basic spelling, grammar and business tone in their written communication. Employers want workers who can write simple, direct and effective communications that convey specific messages in keeping with a company’s goals, vision and values. Demonstrate strong written communication skills from the outset by submitting perfectly composed CVs or resumes, cover letters and emails when approaching an organisation for a job.

X – X-Ray Spectacles

What on earth am I talking about? Employees that can see through the noise and get to the heart of an issue, opportunity, or challenge quickly are, in my experience, rare but extremely valuable people to have in any team. The ability to ask probing questions of the right people, research around topics quickly and make informed recommendations or judgements are key skills to practice .

Y – Your Personal Brand

Suffice it to say your Personal Brand is what makes you employable or not. It is a summation of every one of the characteristics, qualities and skills listed in the A-Z of Employability and a whole lot more. I have a whole series of posts on Personal Brand which can be downloaded here –  The Brand New Brand You.

Z – Zealous

You normally hear the word zealous with the word ’over’ before it and then normally a horrendous customer service or HR related story follows. Being zealous is a good thing however! Passion for what you do, for your customers and your colleagues is a great starting place in your career and a great place to finish the A-Z of Employability.

As always, I hope you enjoyed the post and would love to get your feedback.

Aptitude or Attitude~ What makes a Star Performer?

Star Performer - Attitude or AptitudeI’ve been thinking a great deal of late about what makes the difference between a good team member and a great one, or for that matter a good leader or a great one.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Attitude is a key defining factor.

Who are the stars in your organisation? What characteristics do they possess that make them your top choice? Generally, the best employee is the one who exhibits desired behaviours, i.e. attitude, in addition to having a strong skill set in what’s needed for the job.

What constitutes a ‘great’ attitude? What attitudes make a STAR PERFORMER?

S – Self-belief

The person with self-belief believes in his or her abilities and strides forward with the expectation of success. Others can see and feel that confidence. They are not arrogant – they don’t have to be. Being self-assured means you are secure in your own specific abilities and are happy to let others shine in their own ways. Confident people are not overly sensitive and don’t have big egos. Those who are truly self-assured are the ones you feel good being around.

T – Tenacity

It is often not always the strongest, nor brightest that succeed. Sometimes it is the one who simply refuses to give in – who fights against every discouragement, who presses through every difficulty, who ignores every prediction of failure, who spares no effort, who sees no problem as insolvable and no obstacle as insurmountable. A person with tenacity simply believes that there is a way even when everyone else thinks there is not!

A – Approachability

Don’t you find that your highest performers are often the most approachable? They’re always happy to help, even when they’re really busy. You often find that your star performers are also great coaches because their so approachable and are good at what they do.

R – Resiliency

I’ve also discovered that those who are extremely positive don’t resist life’s events, curse their fate or bemoan how bad things always happen to them. Instead, they believe that everything happens for a reason. This approach helps them to overcome setbacks and “go with the flow.” They learn lessons fast and don’t make the same mistakes again.

P – Positive Energy

A person with high personal energy has a positive outlook on various situations, even during difficult times, maintaining the perspective that the glass is half full rather than half empty. Their energy tends to motivate others as well as themselves!

E – Exceed Expectations

Star Performers go above and beyond the call of duty of their day-to-day tasks. They pay attention to details, seek solutions to problems, and provide a high level of commitment in their duties. In short, they deliver and some, consistently.

R – Responsibility

Anyone that says – ‘That’s not my job’ or says ‘I passed it on to Dave to do, hasn’t he done it?’ or ‘Oh sorry, I forgot’ is not taking responsibility. People that take responsibility, take ownership and take the initiative. If they see something that can be done in a better way, they make it happen; they take decisions; they’re accountable for their actions and they also take responsibility for their own personal development and performance.

F – Focus

Star Performers focus on the right things, not only to meet their objectives, but they also focus on doing the ‘right thing’. Star performers are driven by results and stretch targets. See my previous post ~ Focus on Focus.

O – Openness

Authenticity and generous listening are great behaviours that are not always prevalent in business. These behaviours do get results and often much more quickly. Great businesses need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible — in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

R – Reliability

Star Performers deliver. You can count on him or her to deliver good performance all the time, not just some of the time.

M – Motivated

No matter what the task, a star performer will always perform it without grumbling or with lacklustre, in fact quite the opposite. They’ll absolutely immerse themselves in the task until it’s complete.

E – Enterprising

An enterprising employee is one who is always coming up with new ideas, new ways to do things and innovative solutions to problems. They can be difficult to manage and they can get frustrated by lack of pace. BUT, if you can harness their energy and help them deliver some of their ideas that make a

R – Respectful

Star Performers are always respectful of others, even if they have differing views. They generously listen to what others have to say before expressing their viewpoint. They never speak over, or cut off another person. Star performers never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas. They treat people the same no matter their status, race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin.

Know any Star Performers? Take some time to spot individuals demonstrating these attitudes in your organisation. With the right coaching and support, they could be your greatest asset and leaders of the future.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Employability ~ Who to employ?

Employability - Word CloudThis week I’ve had the privilege to meet with some fantastic educators from  around the region. Some of these conversations were around the topic of employability – what differentiates great from good candidates and what do employers look for in school leavers or graduates?

So below I’ve outlined 10 key attributes that I believe are crucial to GET A CAREER:

Grades – It still is hugely important for students to try to get the best grades they can at whatever level of education they have completed prior to them making the decision to enter the employment market. This is especially important if you wish to gain employment in competitive industries. Many employers use range and type of subjects, level of qualification and grades as the first filter for candidate selection – I’m not saying this is right or wrong…it’s just fact. Good grades in Maths and English (in the UK) are a must.

Experience – Work Experience is undoubtedly one of the best ways to develop employability skills as well as giving you an idea of whether you wish to go into a particular career area after school, college or university. Many Universities offer internships as part of their offering (Example: The University of Hull ), or work placements as part of their courses. Many schools through the Education and Business Partnership are developing links with businesses across the country to help forge links with businesses for work placements or mentoring. Many private sector businesses get involved in apprentice schemes to give young potential employees some paid experience and many leading to permanent positions (Case Study: KC). Volunteering – Wherever you are in the world, there are always opportunities to volunteer your skills to gain wider experience or strengthen your skills.

Team player – Being able to show that you can work collaboratively with others from a wide range of backgrounds is a key requirement in most occupations and is very important when applying for a job. Employers see the ability to work as part of a team as a crucial skill, and you need to be able to demonstrate convincingly that you have sufficient understanding and experience of team working. Whilst you’re in education – get involved in teams / groups – you’d be amazed at how this helps in building your confidence in team work – and you won’t even know it, because chances are you’ll be having fun doing it.

Attitude – a ‘can do’ approach with a drive to make things happen, a passion to learn and prove that you want to be ‘the best that you can be’,  goes a long way in the early stages of employment. You may have to start at the bottom of an organisation, but with the right attitude you won’t stay at the bottom very long!

Communication – Oral / Written: Excellent written and interpersonal communication skills are vital to success in life. Being able to show that you can write concisely and with clarity is a key skill in the initial stage of applying for graduate positions. Likewise being able to converse in a confident and effective manner with others from a wide range of backgrounds is a key requirement in life as well as work and is vital in the initial application process.

Awareness – Commercial: Employers are looking for the following: Knowledge of business generally – Basic financial awareness – Profit & Loss & Business cases; Ability to form opinions and views on issues; An understanding of the issues facing the industry you wish to work in; Appreciation of business stories and their impact on a wider scale;  and the ability to research a topic, analyse and summarise it and present back your findings and recommendations.

Relationships – The ability to build relationships quickly is crucial to a successful career. Start to build your network of contacts as early as you can – you never know when you’ll need someone’s help. LinkedIn is a great business networking site that not only helps you build your network, but has job areas, industry groups and companies that you can monitor to help your commercial awareness at the same time. 

Enthusiasm – Do NOT underestimate the power of enthusiasm – It’s infectious. Whilst enthusiasm is an attitude, I’m not cheating in my mnemonic (Get a Career) by having Enthusiasm separately – because it’s important.

‘E’-Skills – The ability to ‘Work Digitally’ has never been more important than today. As a minimum you should have a good understanding of Microsoft Windows and Office products (Outlook, Word, Excel and Powerpoint of the most importance) as well as the ability to carry out desk research via the web. Depending on your career path you will need to be conversant with key applications that are widely used in your chosen field. The use of voice and video conferencing is widely used in business as well as collaboration tools like Microsoft Office Communications Server and SharePoint. If you have an opportunity to use these at home or your School or University…take the opportunity! 

Reliable – A really simple one – Be on time (or early). Deliver on what you say you will deliver. Be open and honest.

I’m sure there are many more skills you can think of – but for me, the above differentiate the great from the good!

Would love to get your views, thoughts and feedback…..

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