8 Books I Wish I Read Before I Accepted My First Job Offer

A young professional starting a new job recently contacted me.

He was starting an exciting role and requested a list of books I recommend when starting a new job.

He has my respect for reaching out to ask for these recommendations.

Why?

Because not so many people do that.

You see. Starting a new job is beautiful, especially when it’s your first job.

You begin to imagine everything you want to do with the money you earn when you finally start collecting your paycheck.

You want to get the most admirable things for yourself and show the world that you can achieve great things and have what it takes to succeed.

You forget this is a new job; you still must prove to your new manager that you are worth the chance.

You have to show the organisation that you can add value.

If you are about to accept your first job offer, here is a list of must-read books you should consider reading to help you prepare better.


1.       Think Again — Adam Grant

We need to rethink our original ideas and be happy to be wrong to make better, wiser, and more informed decisions.

There are benefits to knowing what you don’t know.

While in your job, you would need to accept that you can’t always be right.

The more you are open to new ideas and suggestions, the better you become a person.


2.       Essentialism — Greg Mckeown

Where should you focus your energy?

As a young professional, you will quickly realise that there is a lot of work to do, and you need to focus on what matters to you the most.

This book will teach you to be an essentialist


3.       Effortless — Greg Mckeown

How can you design your work and life to make the most essential tasks the easiest to achieve?

Burnout is not fun and should be avoided at all costs.


4.        Atomic Habits — James Clear

Your career is a destination, and what you do daily will contribute to who you become in future.

Success does not happen overnight.

You will learn how to work daily to achieve career success.


5.       Millionaire Next Door— Thomas J. Stanley

There are patterns in the behaviour of the rich and the poor, and these patterns affect their financial life.

You will learn about simple financial principles as you start your career to achieve financial independence.


6.       Influence — Robert Cialdini

Influence is a must-read Psychology book for everyone starting in their career.

Robert uses investigative research to uncover how individuals are misinformed and manipulated through the power of influence.

You need to arm yourself with the knowledge to improve how you relate and work with others.


7.       How to Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie

We are social beings, and we will always need to interact with people at work.

Learn the strategies that will help you get along with your colleagues and manager and be likeable.


8.       Rich Dad Poor Dad — Robert Kiyosaki

You need to learn certain financial principles to achieve career success.

Having financial knowledge and applying it daily to your life is vital for financial independence.

These are great books to read before you start your first job.

Learning about personal finance, self-improvement, human psychology, and influence will help you achieve career success.

I have compiled these books on this page. You can view and purchase any of them here.

I wish you the best.

With Job Applications, Quality Is Always Better Than Quantity

A common mistake job seekers make is applying to multiple jobs using a generic CV or Resume.

They believe that the more job applications they send, the higher their chances of landing a job.

They focus on quantity instead of quality.

They believe they need to batch the job application to get a chance

Some applicants batch applications and can lodge 5-10 applications within an hour

Unfortunately, the recruiter rejects most of these applications because they are not unique or customised.

These individuals end up receiving negative emails, which frustrates them

They believe they have put in a lot of work and should get results

It doesn’t work this way.

You have to customise each application to each job if you want to increase your odds of getting shortlisted for an interview.

Ensure your applications are targeted.

Spend quality time customising your resume for the job application.

Each application can take 3-4 hours to complete, but it will be worth your effort.

Employers like these applications as they are customised.

These applications often pass the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) as well.

Applicants who do this often get shortlisted.

They land more interviews, and you begin to wonder how they do what they do.

It’s simple:

They put in the time and effort to get quality applications over the line

They do not focus on quantity over quality

Try to focus on quality over quantity.

You will get more favourable results.

I hope this helps you.

How to stay motivated and keep going during a job hunt

I recently read the story of a young professional (let’s call him John) who had just completed his degree from a top university in the UK. He had completed his degree with flying colours and expected to get a job without any delays. He thought employers would be flocking around him with job offers, and he would ultimately have to choose the best or the juiciest offer from the table. He added that he had paid the price; therefore, luck should shine on him – a belief many recent graduates and millennials hold.

Six months after he graduated from the university and after applying for about 140 jobs, he got no response, and neither was he shortlisted for any interviews. John started becoming worried. John attended some networking events to meet potential employers; however, the magic did not happen as quickly as he anticipated. John was beginning to lose hope and even wondered why he would commit many resources to his graduate degree if there were no jobs for him after college.

John continued to network and improve his portfolio, and after nine months, John began to get shortlisted for interviews. His persistence in getting what he wanted began to pay off. It was as if all the interviews deliberately hid from him for nine months and decided to show up all in one go. John was delighted with the phase change, and his hopes were restored as his confidence improved. After about three successive interviews, John landed two job offers. John finally got the job he desired 12 months after he graduated from college. He applied to over 200 companies within this period before he finally got three job interviews, which led to two job offers. Indeed, all the disappointments he faced during his job search did not matter anymore; what mattered was that he had two job offers waiting for him to choose from. To him, 2 was more significant than 200 indeed! Why? Because what mattered were the two job offers on his table!

Focus on the positive outcomes will ultimately outweigh the negative events

Here are three key activities that helped John to overcome his challenging period:

  • Keep improving: John continued to improve his portfolio and application as time progressed. He was not dismayed by the disappointments and the periods of no-shows from his job applications. This is important for graduate students who can’t land job offers right after college. Let the quiet period be the time you continually improve yourself and enhance your portfolio. Use the time you have under your belt to add value to yourself. Continue to improve your skills, resume, and cover letter, and use the feedback received from the failed job applications to enhance your portfolio. Continuous learning and improvement are crucial as you progress. Sharpen your interviewing skills, read on negotiating salaries, networking, persuasion, public speaking, sales, marketing, and any other skills you need to improve your chances of getting a job. Read and keep on top of industry news or subjects that you will need for the job. Develop areas that will be necessary when you eventually land an interview. Use the time to fill up any skills gap you may have. Pay it forward by giving yourself the best preparation you ever need to ace your next job interview. Use the quiet time to prepare ace your next job interview and learn the skills you need to succeed in your next role

Pay it forward by giving yourself the best preparation you ever need to ace your next job interview

  • Stay motivated: it can be challenging when things are not panning out the way you want. It’s easier to be motivated when things are working out well for you. In John’s case, motivation might be difficult for him after he had applied to several jobs without hearing back from the employers. It is disheartening when all the emails received are unsuccessful responses. Indeed, the motivation and persistence that you develop during this phase will see us through the journey. It would be best if you stayed motivated to recognise opportunities when they finally come your way. Train your subconscious mind to stay motivated and positive in the midst of all the failed attempts. Keep developing your skills, ask for feedback and improve on them daily. Set daily goals, and these will add up over a period of time to give you what you want. See the bigger picture. Do not be dismayed by your current situation.

Staying motivated helps to recognise opportunities when they finally come your way

  • Make a list of your goals and maintain a daily routine – it is essential that you set goals and have a daily routine that points to this goal. A daily routine will guide you and keep you going. When you feel lost, return to your set routines for directions – it is there to guide you. A routine can also be helpful when you don’t have much time – it will help you focus on the most important aspect of your goals. Prepare for the next day’s goals or activities today. Make a plan for the next day before you go to bed the night before. This will keep you in check for your ultimate goal and ensure you are on track. Set your priorities, as these will keep you focussed on the things that matter. Set realistic goals and avoid taking on too much. Learn to say no when and where you have to. Focus is key.

Setting priorities will help you focus on the things that matter

  • Keep moving: John kept moving in the midst of all negatives. He imagined the future when he would get hold of what he wanted. He envisioned a light at the end of the tunnel. He saw peace at the end of an ending war of job applications and rejections. Despite these challenges, John kept moving and progressing his goals by maintaining a daily routine. He never gave up on his end goal.

Do John’s challenges reflect your current situation? Don’t give up! Keep dreaming! Keep working! Keep hoping, and you will get the results you desire. You are not in this alone. Be quick to forgive yourself when you don’t hit the milestones or attain the goals you desire. Do not dwell on past failures. It’s the reason it is called “past”. The future is brighter than the past if you don’t give up and make better use of today. Today matters! It is unlikely that you will attain success without some setbacks or failures along the way. Do not let this deter you. Don’t be swayed into giving up! Stay focussed. Stay on track! Keep applying, keep knocking, keep believing, and the results will soon come knocking. See Austin Kleon’s Keep Going book to help you stay motivated and creative in good and bad times. I also recommend checking out Show your work and Steal like an artist to help you understand how and why you need to develop and showcase your work to your audience.

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Why you need to sell yourself to the interview panel

Ever wondered why some job seekers land almost every job interview they get shortlisted for? I recently participated in a LinkedIn poll seeking opinions on the conversion rates of job interviews. The moderator wanted to gather feedback on the number of interviews a job applicant needed to attend to land an offer successfully. His responses ranged from 1-2, 3-5, >5 interviews. Interestingly, many participants believed an individual should land a job after attending between one and two job interviews. You may wonder if this reflects your current position or situation. While you might have your say, note that opinions generally differ from one individual to another, which may not reflect your status or belief. Indeed, some individuals land an offer after attending one or two job interviews; however, there is a general principle that you may need to revisit your interviewing methods or strategies if you are not hitting or attaining the desired results after attending multiple job interviews.

I will share the story of two recent graduates – Ana and Chloe. Ana and Chloe were classmates who recently completed their postgraduate degrees in Business in the US. The pair are close friends, and their classmates believe they possess certain personal and behavioural traits. However, while Ana is bold, outspoken and appears very confident when interfaced with the public, Chloe, on the other hand, is introverted and timid. Chloe does not readily speak out, except when she must do so. She prefers to listen and observe.

One striking difference between the pair is how well Ana seems to land more job offers than Chloe. On average, Ana lands 80-90% of the job interviews she attends, while Chloe, on the other hand, averages about 50-60% interview-job conversation rates. Ana attends interviews confidently and is quite good at selling herself to the panel. She speaks confidently of her strengths and communicates effectively to the interview panel. The panel would occasionally ask Ana difficult questions, especially about her weaknesses; however, Ana always seems to have a way of turning these uncomfortable questions around to showcase her strengths further. In situations where it was apparent she was not as knowledgeable in certain areas, she would circumvent this gap by letting the panel know of her plans to cover the gaps through her learning and development plans. She would also provide alternative methods for solving a challenge or task, which further showcases her problem-solving abilities. Ana readily uses the SOAR (Situation – Obstacle – Action – Results) technique to buttress her points when asked questions and systemically answers very challenging questions.

Ana puts forward relevant examples to showcase her strengths and why she was an excellent fit for the role. She would cite relevant examples from her previous work, community or volunteer experience to bolster her stories. She also has a portfolio of work where she archives specific projects, events, and projects to show the panel to support her claims. Ana is able to present proof from various sources to support her claims, rather than just talking about them. Before the interview, Ana also researched the company’s website and profile and used online resources, such as Glassdoor, to prepare herself for the interview. She utilised this website as a guide to potential interview questions and answers, reads about the experiences of previous applicants, reviews the salaries reported by insiders to help her better negotiate the salary structure.

Present stories over facts

Chloe, on the other hand, is soft-spoken. She knows her stuff and is quite intelligent; however, Chloe is not as wordy as Ana since she is not outspoken. Chloe prefers to keep it short, therefore, states facts over stories. Her responses often lack depth and do not reflect her overall contributions, as she is cautious not to overstate her claims or oversell herself. Chloe does not want the panel to perceive her as false, boastful or full of pride. She would generally provide very little or no background information to assist the panel in ascertaining her claims. Chloe thought it would be boastful of her to give these little details, which Ana, on the other hand, provides to the panel. She relied on the interview panel to quiz her for more responses with more open-ended questions before adequately stating her claims.

Consider these two graduates. While they are both bright and brilliant, one applicant can speak up more confidently, talk about her strengths and showcase her work to the panel. She carefully represents her case with relevant stories and examples from her portfolio so that the panel can see her pitch lines up with evidence. She does some prior research into what the panel might likely ask or would like to hear and prepares brief responses to these questions.

On the other hand, Chloe is just as good and prepares for the interview; however, she does little in presenting her case and selling herself to the panel. She is polite and careful not to oversell herself, so the panel does not think otherwise of her. Chloe approaches and attempts questions with caution and provides minimal answers to the questions raised by the panel. She would only broaden or expand an idea if quizzed further by the panel.

From the stories of the two graduates, you would probably have guessed why the panel would lean towards the first interviewee over the second. The panel will likely observe that Chloe is as good; however, they will probably be more confident in hiring Ana because she is more confident about herself and her skillset. While who gets hired will also depend on the role and the organisation, many recruiters would lean towards an applicant who has shown confidence and other interpersonal skills, as observed with Ana.

Be careful not to downplay yourself or your skills. Provide end-to-end stories that align with examples and facts.

Interviewing is about selling yourself. Do not assume the interviewer or panel will probe for more responses at all times. It is your duty to present your case to them so they can see the real value in you, and you have to do this such that your stories and facts align with the evidence and examples you have provided to support your claims. There is a thin line between selling yourself adequately and overselling (telling untrue or fabricated stories) yourself. Be careful not to make your reports look unreal, which may cause the panel to think your stories are false. Provide end-to-end stories to the interview questions. Do not assume the panel will always understand that you are not as outspoken and therefore prompt accordingly. You have to tell a story in line with the question being answered, with relevant examples to prove that you are the right candidate, and they will be making a good decision in hiring you. Your resume has done the job of getting you into the front door. The rest of the job lies with you; therefore, be prepared to speak the part. Be confident about your achievements and showcase this with clearly constructed stories and examples.

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Why you need a growth mindset to succeed

Mindset is crucial for success. We often come across individuals with different mindsets, whether in a workplace or academic environment. We have different mindsets, and this continues to shape our individualities and also how we approach situations.

Have you ever wondered why some young individuals seem to grow exponentially and flourish in their field of endeavour? While another category of individuals are stuck at their current state for a long time with little or no growth? Studies suggest that the mindset could be at play. Research also shows that to be a lynchpin in your area of specialisation, you need to have a growth mindset. This mindset will help you approach every event or activity as if they were new to you, which would assist in opening your mind towards learning something new and accepting that you might not know what you do not know. Having a growth mindset helps keep our minds alive as we continually seek out new ways to learn new things, whether in a work or academic setting. Individuals with a gift mindset are generally those whose minds are closed to learning new things and do believe they already know it all. They have so much confidence in their skills, qualification, and talent that they think there is nothing new to learn. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it limits us to believe we are in our best shape, and our activities, contributions or decisions are already based on best practices. While this might be an ideal way of dealing with situations or the right way to go, the danger is that it shuts our minds from accepting feedbacks and exploring new possibilities and ideas.

Have you always imagined a mentor or role model and thought the individual was successful by relying only on his innate abilities? Did you marvel at some of their skills or trait, believing they were born with these skills or traits? Granted, their natural abilities or skills might have influenced some growths; however, most successful professionals do not make it to the top, relying solely on their natural abilities. What you do not see or know is the amount of additional effort they put into their work and practice to stand out amongst their colleagues and peers. They understand that it is challenging to rise to the top by relying solely on their natural gifts or abilities. They also understand that it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort, consistency, commitment, and hard work in addition to their natural abilities to achieve the level of greatness they desire. When we encounter difficulties and challenges, if you have a learning mindset, you know that you will overcome and win with persistence, effort, and openness to learning. Individuals who believe they cannot overcome challenges and difficulties in this manner, even though they are highly talented, suppose there is a limit to their talents. Once they reach that limit, further effort is useless. These are people with Dweck’s definition of a fixed mindset

mindset_hinterviews_3

Image source: Brain Pickings

I will share a story of two individuals I met in a professional setting a couple of years ago. For this illustration, we will call them Zac and Luka. Zac completed his bachelor’s in engineering from a top ten University in North America. Zac has always been a distinction grade student. His colleagues and peers knew him as a nerd, particularly for his academic achievements. Zac was an all-A student; anything short of this will hurt Zac. He worked hard to ensure his scores did not drop below the distinction grade.

Zac thankfully secured his first job a couple of months after he completed his university degree. It was an easy pick for the employer who noticed his academic credentials and wanted to have the talent to be part of their growing team. Zac fit the bill perfectly since the organisation was mainly known for hiring top talents who have distinguished themselves through fine academic performances. A few weeks into his new role, Zac was assigned a project with nine other team members, including a team manager.

During a problem-solving session with the team, Zac would occasionally volunteer and respond to the questions asked by the team manager. Some of his answers were valid, while the others were incorrect and were sometimes countered by the rest of the team members. Zac did not like this situation, as he was too used to getting all his ideas adopted. He thought the team must adopt any answer or idea he suggested. After the meeting, Zac would become furious about why his suggestions were not adopted at the team meeting. He would occasionally meet with the team manager to ask why his recommendations were not adopted. The team manager would happily provide him with feedback that the strategies he proposed were great; however, there were suggested better strategies that would enhance the team’s performance and the project deliverables. Zac occasionally felt disgruntled by this feedback, as he believed his suggestions or ideas were always superior and should always be adopted. Zac would be agitated and often portrayed an unhappy outlook, and colleagues often noticed this.

During the mid-year performance review, Zac’s line manager would invite Zac for a one-on-one meeting. During these meetings, Zac’s manager would review Zac’s performances and provide specific feedback on how Zac could improve his performance both as an individual and in teams for the benefit of the organisation. Zac would act in a defensive manner and often did not agree with the feedback and improvement strategies laid out by his manager. Zac had a firm opinion and would always defend himself, as well as his methods and techniques. Zac does not particularly enjoy feedbacks from colleagues and managers. He would inform his line manager that he believed he was doing the right thing and was helping the organisation grow. Zac would also not adopt the learning and development plans or pathways that his line manager has set out to help him succeed. He believed his academic credentials and accomplishments were tremendous and proof of his mental and professional abilities. All that mattered to him was that he did very well in college, graduating top of his class with flying colours; therefore, there was no need to continually use his manager’s feedback to improve himself and his skills.

Luka, another member of Zac’s group, behaves slightly differently. Luka had great academic results from college, although Zac’s academic reports were superior. Luka always assumed he was average, so he worked hard to ensure he did not fall short of his academic expectations. All that mattered to Luka was to continually upgrade his skills and develop himself based on research and feedback. Luka was a great team member, and his colleagues loved working with him. During team meetings, Luka would offer suggestions and provide answers to the best of his abilities. It did not matter to Luka if the team did not adopt his suggestions or ideas. All he cared about was to assist the team by responding to questions and offering advice to implement projects. He would gladly accept the feedback offered by his Team Lead and other colleagues on his work, and he would utilise this feedback to improve his skills and performance.

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Image Source: Canva

During the mid-year performance review, Luka was provided with an overall assessment of his work performance. Interestingly, Luka thought he was not a great employee as he either rated himself low or average on areas where his manager rated him otherwise. Luka’s manager was highly impressed with Luka’s overall performance and only offered areas of improvement in a few areas. Luka accepted this feedback and designed his developmental plan to address these gaps.

One year later, Luka was promoted twice to a more senior role. He was now Zac’s senior. Although the position was internally advertised, the hiring manager found it convenient to promote Luka over Zac. The leadership team believed Luka was teachable and open to learning. In addition, he accepted feedback, acknowledged his weaknesses and was constantly developing himself. Zac, on the other hand, had limited growth in his career due to his gift mindset. He remained in the same role for years because he believed in his innate or gift abilities. He did not leave his comfort zone to learn new skills or accept new challenges. He was not a great team player and was open to learning. His colleagues preferred not to run ideas by him, as they thought he was not open to suggestions and feedback.

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Image Source: Canva

Professionals with a growth mindset are a pleasure to work with both in a formal and informal setting. They are great team leaders, managers, mentors, peers, and subordinates at work. They accept that they might be wrong and are always open to listening to others and receiving positive feedback to improve themselves. These individuals learn from their mistakes daily and practice continuous professional improvement as they routinely check their mindset and actions against what is expected. They are quick to change their views if their arguments are weak, accept that their ideas or approaches are inadequate and are always open to learning.

When you focus on the good, the good gets better

On the other hand, professionals with a gift mindset are not as great to work within academic or professional settings. They are not great managers of teams, and neither are they the colleagues, peers and teammates you would desire to work with. They are not quick to accept there might be flaws in the ideas. They have confidence in their ideas, approach and strategies and believe they know everything they need to know. They are unwilling to accept new ideas or change their way of thinking even if evidence suggests their approach is wrong.

As professionals, we have so much greatness and power within us, and we can achieve anything we set out to achieve if we believe in ourselves as evolving individuals. We have the power to develop further the skills and abilities we think are fixed or innate. We must imbibe the growth mindset to advance and continue to be the best we can be in our education, work, career, and day-to-day lives. We need to believe that our natural abilities can be further developed and reshaped to help us get better and brighter at any endeavour by investing a tremendous amount of time and effort through constant practice. We must shift away from the gift mindset, which undermines our personality by believing that our abilities and skillsets are fixed.

In summary, to advance your career and be the professional you want to be. It would be best if you imbibed a growth mindset. You must accept that there is power in knowing what you do not know, and every feedback can be used to further improve your natural abilities and skills. You need to accept challenges as opportunities for growth and look for positive clues or lessons for tangible gains. Individuals or professionals with a gift mindset believe that their skills and qualities are constant variables, which can lead to personal, academic or career regression or stagnation. A growth mindset is based on the notion that qualities are developed through your efforts, commitment, and time you devote yourself.

We have the power to develop further the skills and abilities we think are fixed or innate.

Set out to develop a growth mindset today and be the best you can be. This new change might be a challenging step; however, this will make you a better person and help you achieve your goals by giving you the confidence you need. A growth mindset sees failure not as a failure or setback but as a catalyst or indicator for success. All that matters is not how skilled or great you are in your career but how good you want to be. A growth mentality is a mechanism for career success. Individuals with a growth mindset generally have a positive and winning outlook. They will continue to be the leaders and change-makers whom colleagues, peers and managers can trust for the leadership and motivation needed to inspire the team and achieve their goals.

Image Source: Canva

We can achieve a growth mindset by discussing setting and achieving learning and developmental goals. Setting goals is paramount to achieving them and an individual with a growth mindset will always seek out ways to achieve his or her goals using a defined plan of action over time. It’s also essential that individuals vary their approaches and question their thoughts and ideas. As much as possible, do not rest on best practices or the usual way of doing something, instead vary your approach and remain open and be approachable to new ideas. Seek out the positive aspect of feedback and use this to improve yourself. You have nothing to lose; if the feedback is great, it will improve you. If you think the feedback is not helpful, you move on; either way, you learn from it. Remember to understand and embrace your weaknesses; knowing where the gaps are can potentially motivate you to improve yourself.

How to Transition from a Less to a More Desirable Role in Your Dream Company

I met a graduate a couple of years ago who completed his Master’s degree from a top university in Australia. We will call him Andy. Andy was intelligent, soft-spoken and confident. He approached problems with a positive mindset and always thought out of the box to solve challenges. Andy could not find a job in his field when he completed his degree in 2018. I caught up with Andy and he shared his experiences with me while we took a walk to the shops on one of those cold winter evenings. Andy’s story ran through my spine, as I imagined how difficult it must have been for Andy to think things would pan out quickly as he imagined right after his studies. As Andy was out of school, his source of financial support had been limited, so he needed to get a job as soon as possible to support himself. He also noted that living expenses were high, and needed to get busy as soon as possible. After mulling over Andy’s challenges, I could not offer a path out of current challenges since I was a current student and did not have any experience landing a job in Australia. However, something was evident – Andy needed to find a job ASAP to meet his needs. So my advice to Andy was simple – get started with any job in firms that interest you, do an excellent job in your role, offer free advice and volunteer for tasks that align with your career where possible. Andy, who was about 5ft 10 inches tall and of average build, decided to get a job as a Warehouse Assistant to move and stack boxes up to 15kg. Thankfully, it was one of the busy periods around the end of the financial year, so that kept him busy. When Andy started working at the warehouse, he met other workers who had been sent from the same recruitment agency to the warehouse on an approximately three-month contract. Andy was dedicated and committed to his job. He was punctual, open to learning, and sought opportunities to grow even though this was not his dream job. He focussed on adding value in this role and ensured his employers and contractors had confidence in him. Four weeks into the role, Andy, who was an Occupational Health and Safety professional, realised there were some health and safety gaps in the firm and decided to chat with the manager. Andy expressed his desire to provide advice to ensure the firm maintained industry standards. Andy immediately highlighted some gaps to the manager and demonstrated with clear examples how the firm could improve its health and safety processes. The manager shared these points with a senior colleague, and both individuals accepted that Andy could provide occupational health and safety advice. Andy was asked to spend 1-2 days per week working specifically on HSE-related projects in the warehouse and the other days working as a regular assistant alongside his colleagues. Andy continued to add value in both roles, and the manager was impressed with how Andy had reshaped the health and safety procedures of the firm. At the end of the three months contract, Andy’s contract was extended for a further six months, specifically working on health and safety projects, as the firm was looking to improve its processes further. Unfortunately, Andy’s colleagues who had started at the same time as Andy were let go since their primary project had ended. Andy had also started looking for a permanent full-time role for job security. While Andy was working at the firm, he would continually update his resume accordingly with the new responsibilities and experience. Andy started getting noticed by other employers after few weeks. After two interviews, Andy got a permanent full-time bumper offer with a choice firm. Andy’s manager at the warehouse was instrumental in helping Andy land this role, as he provided a great reference to support Andy’s application.

Andy’s case is one with sheer determination, a positive attitude, and willingness to have a successful career. He found opportunities in every endeavour. He put in his best and was always focused on the positive side of things. He recognised opportunities and volunteered to add value.

In the quest to find a source of income, many international students, graduates, and professionals settle for casual jobs to fend for themselves and their families. Most of these jobs are often menial and require little or no formal training to complete. These opportunities, therefore, appear suitable for students, early-career individuals, or migrants to support themselves. I have met engineers, management consultants, medical practitioners who alluded to doing a job considered out of standards to make ends meet. Employers who require permanent full-time staff will unlikely accept individuals with limited work rights due to visa restrictions.

This article aims to enlighten students, graduate, and early-career professionals engaged in a casual, less-desirable or sub-optimal work on making the switch to their preferred roles using Andy’s “Charity begins at work” approach. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working sub-optimal or low-value jobs to meet one’s needs; however, it may be detrimental not to have an end goal in mind, with SMART objectives to achieve this goal. Below are some steps recommended for individuals to get the best value from their current position, get noticed and ultimately achieve their career goals.

Plan the jobs and the companies

This might seem a bit weird or counterproductive for individuals with urgent financial needs. However, where practicable, it’s always a good idea to take up casual or part-time positions in organisations or companies where your professional skills can put you in the limelight. If you are an Engineer, opt for such jobs in an organisation or company in the engineering sector. The benefit of this is that you will not only understand the business area, but you can also add value indirectly while engaging in your casual, less-desired role.

Choose an organisation that supports growth within the organisation

Since your goal is to transition from a less-desired role into a more desired one, it is essential that you choose an organisation that supports growth and transitioning within the organisation. There are quick and easy ways that this can be achieved:

Take a look at the career page

Glance through the career page of the company’s website to see if you find ads for other roles, as well as casual positions. This is a good sign that they routinely post vacancies on their websites with openness, allowing potential candidates to apply directly.

Look at staff profiles on LinkedIn

It is also good to look up some of the current and previous staff on professional networks such as LinkedIn to see their career journey. It might also be a good idea to contact a former or current staff member to learn about his career journey and potential growth opportunities within the firm.

Attend the interview as if you were being considered for your dream position

Appear confident at the interview and speak like a true professional but focus on the interview for the role you are being interviewed for (do not get carried away). Do not approach the interview as though it’s not important since it’s not your dream role. Prepare as much as though you are getting interviewed for your dream role. Read about the business area, the business sector, your role in the business while highlighting your key strengths. You want to ensure you ace the interview and get your foot in the door.

Ask the HR or hiring manager on interview day about potential for growth

During the interview process in many organisations, a lot of questions border around career growth, career plans, opportunities for improvement. Use this opportunity to let the panel know your long-term career aspirations; however, be careful not to make this your focus or dwell too much on this discussion, as you do not want this to be the highlight of the interview. Ensure the role you have applied for remains the focus so that you can be offered the job. Remember, this is what you ultimately want so that you get your foot in the door before unleashing any other career plans you may have.

Put in your best on the job

One of my core values is “Excellence”. I have a notion that anything worth doing at all is worth doing well. You may not love your current position since this may not be your area of interest. However, you either prepare to do a good job or let the next person have it. Let other team members know you are all about excellence.

Prepare to do a good job or let the next person have it

Engage on Yammer or Workplace

If you have been set up to have access to the organisation’s intranet and apps, it’s a good idea to engage with other staff on social apps such as Yammer and Workplace. Most companies that host their online applications on Microsoft have Yammer. Yammer is similar to LinkedIn but designed specifically for the organisation and its staff. Staff engage internally, and internal positions are often advertised on Yammer or Workplace as well. It’s also a good idea to follow managers in your areas of interest so that their posts can be prioritised in your feeds. Don’t feel intimidated by your current position. Connect with your teammates on Yammer, Workplace, or any other social network application set-up by your organisation. I recommend checking this page daily. Engage in discussions, join groups that interest you, and share ideas with other co-workers.

Don’t be a “regular” – do more than you are paid to do

Be that individual that puts his hands up to take up ad-hoc responsibilities or tasks when they come up. Show the managers you are dependable and complete tasks as soon as possible while delivering quality work. Doing this will instil confidence in you from the managers, and you will begin to gain recognition.

While working in this role, you want to show your worth as much as you can. Study as much as possible to learn about the job and the business. Contribute as much as you can during team meetings. Be the person that volunteers to take on irregular or out-of-scope tasks that come up. It shows your willingness and eagerness to help the team and your responsibility and ownership culture. Think outside of the box and suggest ideas to the team. It’s okay if all your thoughts are not implemented. This is unlikely to happen. You only need a few to pass, and you will be recognised for doing a good job. Make good suggestions to the managers, ask intelligent questions and let them know you can assist in other roles. One additional benefit of this is that you begin to learn something new, and you might be another team member in your choice department.

Keep on top of industry news and trends

As you wish to transition from a current role to a more desired “dream role” within the organisation, it’s a good idea to keep abreast of the latest events in the business and your dream role. Speak to colleagues working in those roles, and attempt to understand their current challenges. Think about these challenges at the end of the day when you have some free time, brainstorm and design solutions you think might be helpful, and proffer these to the team. You want to make sure this is captured as much as possible on email. Opportunities such as this help you get noticed and gain visibility in the organisation, which is what you ultimately need.

Another benefit of this approach is that it helps develop your mindset and problem-solving approach as if you were already working in that role you desire. The manager at your choice department might approach you if they need an additional team member on the team. This will be a win for all, as the HR or hiring manager will be happy they do not have to go through the normal hiring process of advertisement, shortlisting, and interviewing, and you would not have other applicants to contend with. You might just be the one and only candidate to be interviewed for this role!

Apply for current positions in your desired role in other departments

Now that you have contributed positively in your current role, and shown that you can readily take up new and more challenging responsibilities, it’s a good time to start applying for your choice positions as they come up. Remember to keep getting your job done, regardless. Leave no lapses. After all, it’s what you are being paid for. Do not assume that you will be automatically considered for the new role. You still have to do a part by updating your resume accordingly. Remember to include a cover letter and highlight your skills, achievements and contributions to the organisation. If you have made a good impression in the early stages, it won’t be challenging to have your manager be your reference. Do not assume this will be automatic; you still have to speak to them, letting them know about your intentions to apply for an internal role and requesting that you enlist them as your reference. Remember to follow the application guidelines and other requirements specified in the position description, as you might get penalised and lose out entirely if you do not follow these instructions.

Remember to include a cover letter and highlight your skills, achievements and contributions to the organisation.

Let your current manager know

Your manager will most likely become aware of your job application, so it is a good idea to let him or her know just before applying for the position or right after you have applied. You don’t want your manager to hear from another source. More importantly, most internal positions require that current managers sign off to let you go. If you are looking to execute this process without your manager, it’s not a good idea, as you would not leave a good impression. You might also lose your manager’s trust in the process. Let him know you are applying to hone your skills or gain additional skills, take on more challenging work, etc. Whatever your reasons are, be honest about it and ensure you do not tarnish your current position or speak low of your current colleagues. Ensure your manager gains your trust; he is the best internal reference you have.

Ensure you meet the minimum requirements for the job you have applied for and can implement at least 60-70% of the set tasks with evidence from prior and current work experience.

Meet the HR Representative or Hiring Manager

If you have done so already, it’s a good idea to meet and say hello to the HR or hiring manager. Let them know you will apply or have applied for the role. This individual may be instrumental in providing you with first-hand information that you need to land the job and may also answer specific questions that you may have.

Be Professional and ace the interview

Do not assume you will not be interviewed for this role because you are an internal candidate and already familiar with the team and the organisation. Treat this interview or opportunity as though you were applying from the outside. As mentioned previously, remember to prepare for the interview; learn about the business and department you will be working in, your role, strengths, and, more importantly, how you will add value to the organisation. Many individuals take their guards down when they reach this point, thinking the job done (this is a costly assumption!). Also, have at the back of your mind that you might be interviewing with others, which means the recruiter or hiring manager has to consider and choose the best candidate. In addition, you might be held to higher standards or more challenging questions because you already work within the organisation. Ultimately, they want a qualified candidate that can get the job done, so “familiarity” alone may not land you the position. After the interview, it’s always nice to send a good thank you email to the panel, thanking them for their time and consideration. This is an excellent strategy to remain in their subconscious after the interview.

Good luck!

Leadership Statement and Philosophy

Leadership Statement and Philosophy

An important part of this portfolio is to critically evaluate the philosophies, values and principles that guide me as an aspiring leader – not just in the healthcare industry, but in other areas of work and life in general. My viewpoint of leadership has changed in the last decade, which coincided with the period when I completed my Bachelor’s and when I joined the workforce. Many definitions of leadership exist, however, I believe leadership is authority, influence, responsibility, ownership and successfully leading a group of people. It is the ability to lead others to greatness, and setting the same standards you would like the other team members to follow. Leadership makes an individual live by great morals. Leaders are born and made. While certain individuals are born with some leadership traits, many others have developed themselves to be leaders. In fact, leadership skills can be developed by constant participation in development and leadership programmes; taking up more responsibilities; being accountable; listening to renowned leaders. As an aspiring leader, I value integrity, accountability, discipline and innovation. My goal is to make my followers feel valued through a constant display of empathy, listening to them and valuing their contributions. The importance of role models in this new dispensation cannot be overemphasized. Role models provide valuable mentorship and guidance to aspiring leaders. I particularly admire the leadership behaviour of former US President, Barack Obama. He is charismatic and skilled at taking charge of situations. He is also disciplined, responsible, accountable, and bold. He is a problem-solver and takes pride in listening to his followers.

In summary, leadership is responsibility and it cuts across all aspects of life. A good leader has to be fully responsible for his actions and those of his followers. A leader who is disciplined with the personal affairs of his life will most likely be able to lead rightly in his family and work affairs.

Leadership Development

Continuous leadership development and growth are essential to maintaining productivity and effectiveness within a healthcare organisation. Continuous leadership development can contribute to the growth and success of an organisation. Leaders seeking to develop an organisation must also seek ways to continuously enhance their leadership skills and portfolios. Although, my education and previous professional experience did introduce me to leadership and management; I still desire continuous development through practical training and experience to continually leverage my academic knowledge on leadership with practical scenarios in the workplace. I would also attend leadership programmes, seminars and trainings and critically assess my leadership skills using structured leadership assessment tools and questionnaires, to understand my leadership behaviour and to check for areas of weakness and draw out realistic plans to improve on these aspects. I would take feedbacks from professional evaluations seriously and address the gaps reported. I would also seek informal feedback from colleagues and fellow team members in formal and informal settings, especially on completion of a project.