Hey guys, so I thought I’d try talk about my career and the lessons I’ve heard over the past few years since getting into my field choice.
If your new to my blog, I work in project management in the Banking/Financial sector and have mainly specialised on working on large scale regulatory programmes/projects. I know, my day job is completely different to my side hustle (blogging) but the two keep me sane and balanced. One keeps me balanced on a financial level and has allowed me to buy, save and experience more than I’ve ever done before. Another keeps me balanced on a creative level. It allows me to be fruitful with my creativity.
It’s been 3 years since I left my mundane job working in a top Property and Construction firm to venture into Financial/Banking sector and specialise in programme management. So many people look at self employment or contracting as a means of need and I’ve seen those in a 9-5, hustling via permanent employment. I’ve been permanent before. But in a job that was mundane, dry and just not what I wanted to do. I took the plunge in 2013 to step out of permanent employment and move into contracting which to many was ‘madness’.
I often heard ‘what…..why are you leaving your job with no job to go to’. My simple answer was that I had a plan. It was fight or flight for me. Make or break. There was no turning back for me. Learn a stable job, decent income (for a graduate) with nothing to go to? Not only was I transition from permanent employment to contracting but I was also moving to a whole different industry. An industry which was small, circular and hard to get into with no experience or at least a transferable degree i.e. Business Studies, Accounting. There’s me with my Quantity Surveying Consultancy degree, 18 months experience working the Property and Consultancy excluding a placement year. Everyone thought I was mad….except my mum who had belief in me but even she questioned me hard to make sure my plan was concrete….solid…..and the end goal was always clear. I’ve done a post on how i transitioned from one industry to another. Read it here.
Now I’m contracting, have gained an array of key skills which will keep my CV attractive, and agencies chasing you for new contracts they are recruiting. Here are some tips I’ve learnt along the way to excel and prosper in your chosen field:
- Create a good CV and keep changing it – Your CV is you on paper. Within 30 secs of reviewing a CV, the hiring manager will know whether they want to interview you. Keep it sharp, clean and concise. Do not put in things which are not relevant to the role/career. You don’t need to pay for anyone to do your CV but I also don’t shun anyone who opt for this. Just make sure that you go with a reputable company – read reviews to find the right one. Never let you CV become stagment. You may need to change it daily, weekly before you get the winning CV. You should also be tailoring and tweaking your CV to the role you are applying – that doesn’t mean lying. It means making sure your experience and skills required for the role you are applying for.
- Network and surround yourself with people who are striving to elevate themselves also – ‘You are the company you keep’ is a saying we’ve all heard but it’s actually vital. Attend networking events where possible. There were loads of free or low entry fee events which you can attend and if you are a graduate, networking events are in abundance these days. Tell everyone you meet and connect with what your aspirations are. Keep it short, sweet and concise. You never know who can connect you to your next opportunity. The people you meet today may open that door for you tomorrow!! Remember that. It really doesn’t matter how great your CV is at times. If someone can recommend you or pitch for you….your in!
- Plan your future – Set short term and long term career goals. These can change with time and experience but it helps to keep you focussed and aligned to achieving and progressing within your chosen career.
- Don’t stay stagmant in your industry or job – If your bored in your job or field, speak to your manager, see if there’s a way you can take on new activities to expand your skillset. It could be a secondment, or new position all together. If you still feel you skills are not being appreciated, leave! Find something else. Do not stay in a stagment situation.
- If you contracting, READ your contract in DETAIL – I cannot stress this enough. It sounds so obvious right? I had a situation occur where I started my contract and continue to be obtain contract extensions due to my good work and efforts. But by the time of my last contract extension, my relationship with my bully of a manager had crumbled. I was rushed into signing my extension based on the fact that they left my renewal so late and I sloppily did not read the new terms in my notice period. Fast forward 6 months later and feeling that God was telling me this manager was plotting something evil, I managed to get 3 seperate contract offers in other banks, all with room for progress and significant rises in pay. I (in spite lol I will not lie), rang my agent and handed in my notice. My agent just so happened to be my managers best friend (something I found out after I got the job) so I knew the message would get to him quickly and sting. It’s quite pathetic when I look back at it but at that point in time, things were so bad I only spoke to him about once a week and if I did, our convo would be blunt, short and full of distaste. My manager was a person full of evil lol a spoilt middle class boy addicted to power and felt everyone was beneath him due to the status of his father and associates. Cut a long story short, my manager was plotting to get my kicked out of the job but because I was so good at my job, he was struggling to build a case. My contract was coming to an end in June so I knew I had to get out fast. When I handed in my notice, I didn’t realise that at my last extension, my notice period terms had changed from 1 week on each side to ‘1 week on my side, no notice on their side’. This definitely had changed due to my manager. I definitely know that for a fact. I was told the following day I didn’t need to work my notice period which I was shocked by until my ‘agent’ at the time advised me of the change in my contract. Learn from me. READ it, QUERY it before you sign anything.
- Make yourself an asset – Building your skills around what your employer needs is also a good way to gain experience and progress quickly through the ranks. Shadow, do on the job training….be that employee who uses their initiative and
- Remember that you are always replaceable – Stay on your toes, re-skill yourself. There will also be another person who wants to be where you are. Its up to you to keep yourself there or continuing to advance yourself.
- Commercial awareness!! – VITAL VITAL VITAL. Keep in the know of keys things happening in your industry. A good one right now is Brexit. Its affecting and shaping so many industries, roles, life etc. Having good commercial awareness is a win win in interviews. Managers love it. Read newspapers, forums, listen to the radio….there’s so many outlets you can tap into to build your commercial awareness.
- Post your CV on job sites every Sunday and Wed – Some might not believe this works but repost your CV on job sites everyone Sunday and Wed so that your CV is at the top of the pile when agents search for candidates. I find that when I did this, I had a massive response from agencies compared to when I didn’t repost my CV at all.
I hope the above helps some of you with progressing your careers and tailoring the direction you want to lead in life. If you have any questions or need advice, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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