Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Z is for... Zzzzz!

As much as it is important to be proactive about your career development and proactive in your job. It is also important to rest, relax and take a break. There is no point in working yourself to death or burning yourself out. You are no use to anyone.

Rest Breaks At Work

What is your entitlement? Workers are usually entitled to rest breaks if they work for someone else. However their contract of employment may say that they are entitled to more or different work breaks.

If you work more than 6 hours a day you have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during your working day. This is usually your lunch break.

You also have a right to 11 hours rest between working days and the right to an uninterrupted 24 hours work free period each week (or 48 hours in each fortnight).

Your employer can say when you take your rest break provided it is in the middle of your working day and you are allowed to spend it away from your desk (or working area). Unless your contract of employment states otherwise a worker does not have a right to take smoking breaks.

There are of course different rules depending on the type of work you do but these rules are true for more office-based workers unless their contract of employment states otherwise.

So what if you are self-employed? 

You work the hours you want. It is more than likely tht you push yourself without breaks and challenge yourself more. So just make sure you get some rest breaks in (and some holiday).

Monday, 29 April 2013

Y is for.. You Tube Marketing

If you are an employee (rather than an employer) you might think - what has marketing got to do with me? I have worked for a varierty of companies - some have dedicated marketing professionals - others leave it up to their employees.

In a small company taking on extra responsibility can get you noticed and work in your favour. Too often companies are reluctant to take advantage of youtube. Working in a senior-manager-heavy company I have found it important to take the time to explain online resources that can be utilised.  

What types of videos can we make for youtube? seems to be the most popular question I get asked. The advice I would give my own colleagues would be very different to the information that I might pass on to a friend working in a different industry. The type of video most suitable depends on your company, your brand, your product or service...

Think about what you like as a consumer. I find that the impressive demos, How-To and instructable videos work well.

Another approach is to think about the content that you have on your website  and complement it.  A more business-like approach is to embed interviews and client recommendations into your website - such simple starting points might go down better with a technology-adverse boss.

Whatever you do make sure your videos Inform, Educate, or Entertain.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Celebrating the Small Things - 27 April

Once again I am taking part in Vik Lit's celebrating the small things...

Sorry for being a day late - I am blaming the a to z challenge for my lateness this week. I hope you are all having a great weekend so far.

This week I am celebrating...

1.  The release of Iron Man 3 (looking forward to seeing it as my end of week treat).

2. Getting in some writing time with a starbucks coffee - Yes, it is a bad habit to fall back into (and it is not a habit I can afford or sustain) but it does a wonderful thing of blocking out an hour of undisturbed writing each day when I am not in the house with the Nespresso.

3. Getting a "Thank you" from my boss.

4.  Supporting my other half's healthy eating routine. Successfully. (although I have hidden some crisps where he can't see them).

X is for.... X

X is for... X (and by X I mean roman numeral 10).

X (or 10) is a great number. A great number for lists. I love Top 10 Lists, and under L is for... Lists I wrote about keeping a list of my dream jobs (place to work). In my own personal career journal this takes the form of a Top 10 list (although it does not have to).

There are a number of "Top 10" lists that you should write (and review) as part of your career development:

I.   Top 10... Jobs 
This should be a list of your dream jobs, places that you would love to work etc. much like the list you wrote previously.

II.  Top 10... Clients or Projects
This list should be of opportunities you want to take advantage of - or the top clients and projects that you have worked on or if you are looking to the future - want to take on.

III.  Top 10... Achievements
The things that you have done in your career that you should be bragging about on your CV and in interviews.The things that should not go unmentioned.

IV.  Top 10 ... Skills
Make this list simply so you have thought about what your best skills are - yes you may know what you can do, but take some time to think about what you excel at.  

V.  Top 10... Ways to Relax
It should not be all about work. know what you do for fun and to relax and enjoy yourself.  Too often it can feel like you just have work and then home life (cooking, cleaning sleeping). I write - what do you do?

VI. Top 10... Tips for Doing Your Job
How would you explain to someone how to do the job. What advice would you give to your successor?

VII. Top 10 ... Improvements you would make
What would you improve about your job and what recommendations would you give to your boss if he asked (or gave you an unlimited budget).

VIII. Top 10... Things you love about your Job
How do you sell what you do? List what you love so when you have a bad day you can remember why you do the job and why you love it.

IX. Top 10... Resources
List the best external sources of information.

X. Top 10... Contacts
List your contacts in one handy place. Know who you can call on for advice, guidance and a good kick up the ass if necessary.

Friday, 26 April 2013

W is for... Word of Mouth

One of the strongest sources of job vacancies is Word ofMouth. It can be great for finding out more information about a vacancy, about a specific role or simply about a company.

Company Referral Schemes

A lot of larger or specilised companies will offer incentives to ther exisiting employees to refer colleague or friends for a job. This is usually a sum of money to their employee if they hire their referral or recommendation. Employees usually know some great people with the suitable skill set, a recommendation is usually also an endorsement that a candidate has good prospects.

With the right incentive and a good scheme in place a lot of great names will get handed over. You want to be one of these names. If you are a job seeker it is always worth asking friends, colleagues and networking contacts to let you know if they have any vacancies, as it is an incentive for them to check if they also have a referral scheme in place.

References and Reputation

Building up a good reputation and having a host of excellent endorsements or references is  another great way to use word of mouth to help you get a job - it may put your name in front of someone you didn't know was hiring, or thinking of hiring.

And you never know - an informal chat with someone might even make them consider creating a vacancy for you.

Company Satisfaction

Even if you have found the job vacancy through other means, Word of Mouth is a great way about finding out more about a company, their work culture, employee satisfaction etc. You might be right for the job, but you should also be considering if the job is the right fit for you...

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

V is for... Vacancies

I have talked before about online resources which included a list of job search websites. Search Engines for job availabilities is the main way to find a job online.

But what other ways are there to find vacancies?
  • Job Search Websites
  • Industry Specific Websites
  • Recruiters
  • LinkedIn
  • Subscriptions
  • Word of Mouth (come back for tomorrow's post for more on this).
  • Networking
  • Social Media
  • Newspapers
  • Internal Jobs Board
Whether you are actively looking or not - opportunities arise when you least expect it.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U is for... Up To Date

Keeping up to date with current affairs, market and industry news and developments regularly can easily be forgotten or overlooked. However, it is an essential part of career development.

The type of updates that you will need to keep on top of will depend on your job and the industry or sector you work in. If you are aiming for a promotion, expand your knowledge with updates that you would expect your boss to be reading.

Whatever your job, whatever your role - keeping up to date can be both interesting and beneficial. Here are some suggestions on keeping up to date:

  • Find a way to incorporate keeping up to date with current affairs into your daily routine and make it a habit. Watch the news at breakfast, listen to the radio during your communite, use a news app on your phone or read a newspaper or website during your lunch break. 
  •  Subscribe to Key Industry Publications. Sometimes your company will do this for you - so don't be afraid to ask. If your boss already subscribes to a publication and is unwilling to shell out for another one - ask if you can read theirs when they are finished with it.
  • Sign up for e-newsletters or email updates.
  • Keep subscriptions to relevant websites or blogs. Have a section for work-related ones in your RSS reader of choice. 
  • Think outside the box and subscribe to other websites or blogs of interest that might reveal some relevant hidden gems. I also like to read technology updates to see if there is anything I can utilise. 
  • Find your update niche. Find a particular sub-topic that you are interested in and become the "go to" person for that topic. That little bit extra can go the long way particularly if no one else in your team has the same interest. 

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T is for... Training

There are a number of courses readily available in our modern world whether these are run by professional bodies, dedicated companies, local universities, other local organisations or online these are all worth looking into and present you with different options. 

Courses – whether they are required by your job or not – are a great way of expanding your skills, knowledge and adding something to that all important CV. They are equally important regardless of whether you are a job-seeker, looking for a promotion or looking for a career change.

Training should feature as part of your overall objective, should feature in your Five Year Plan and should be a consideration when preparing for your appraisal.

Do you have a training budget? If not, not why not? Have you asked!

If work won't provide you with the training (or you want to learn new skills outside of your job description) are you prepared to find the time to sit the course and fund it yourself? Yes? Then you need a training plan.

Before starting consider the answers to the following questions:

  1. What training have I already undertaken to get here?
  2. What training am I required to do by law or company policy?
  3. What training does my employer provide me with? 
  4. Is there any else they should be providing me with?
  5. Is there anything I already do online / in my free time?
  6. What training do I need for get the job/position I want?
  7. Will my employer provide me with this training?
  8. What form will this training take?
  9. Is there anything else I need to do myself?
  10. What is next?
Once you know the answer to these questions you can start to formulate a plan.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

S is for... Skills Analysis

 Take some time to analyse your skills while reviewing job applications:

1. Review your Skills

Skills come into two categories:
  • Skills I have; and
  • Skills to Improve.
When reviewing your skills try and split them into these two categories. What skills do you already have? Try and write these down in the "Skills I have List". Consider separately the skills you want to improve on or think you need for your ideal job. Write these down on the "Skills to Improve" list.

2. Analyse Job Descriptions

Next consider whether the skills to improve are the same skills you need for the jobs you are applying for.

When reviewing the "requirements" on job descriptions split them into the same two categories.  Only this time evidence the skills you do have and note which skills you need but do not have.

I review not only the jobs I am applying for but similar jobs. For example even if a job is a little outside of my commute and I won't be applying for it I still consider the skill requirements as they might benefit a job I later do apply for.

3. Improve your Skills

Consider HOW you are going to improve or obtain these skills and whether you have the means and resources to do so.

It might be as simple as taking on an extra project at work, attending a course or you may just need to push a little further on something you are already doing.

4. Priorise those that are "required" or "important" for the job you are applying for.

Add an action to your to-do list for the HOW you are going to obtain the skills you need to improve. Then actively work through the list of skills to improve.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

R is for... Recruiters

So you may have heard of recruitment specialists, but never used one or are not really sure what they do. Most recruitment consultants offer the following (confidential) services:
  • Career Development Advice
  • advice on the State of the Job Market
  • CV and Application Checking
  • Interview Training and Preparation
  • Information about Vacancies
  • Salary Information
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Knowledge of appropriate Contacts
  • Business Plan Preparation 
A word of warning though. Not all recruiters are good - do you research - find an appropriate recruiter for you industry and the type of company you are applying for a job with. Your colleagues, HR department and/or University will usually be happy to make recommendations. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Celebrating the Small Things... 19 April

Once again I am taking part in Vik Lit's celebrating the small things...

This week I am celebrating...

1. Reaching the half way point of the A to Z Challenge - and I am somehow surviving.

2. Nespresso Coffee

3. a Clean Car (all vacuumed out by my very nice other half)

4. a Night Out (first one in months)

5. Completing another chapter of my book. 

Have a nice Weekend!

Q is for... Quotes

What quote have you got on your mug or cubicle at work? I have a mug with the (now) overused "Keep Calm and Carry On" but I love it. However I might just have to update it to...

One of my favourites in my workplace kitchen is "Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change you life".

What is your favourite? Share your favourite workplace quotes in the comments.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P is for... Presentations

Does your employer do internal training sessions or regular updates as part of their training programme? If so, why not volunteer to give a presentation to your colleagues on a relevant topic? Quite frequently trainers are looking for internal presenters to plug the gaps between the external / headline speakers. 

Do this well and you will:

  • Make HR/your Boss/ the Organiser forever grateful
  • Draw yourself to the attention of those higher up the food-chain
  • Work on/improve on your presentation skills
  • Gain confidence 
  • Get your name out there… in the wind and possibly in print
  • Get the opportunity to talk with colleagues you don’t necessarily get to talk to your day-to-day job

Personally I hate giving presentations, but if you are well prepared and have researched your topic you will have no problem. 

Presentation Checklist:

  1. Approach your Boss or Event Organiser - Approach them with a few topics in mind. They might have suggestions but if you are pro-active you might get to talk about something you actually know about (or want an excuse to research further). 
  2. Research, draw up an outline and prepare your draft presentation – this is where the hard stuff starts – know what you are doing.
  3. Set / Confirm the date – this enables you to plan ahead. 
  4. Prepare Slides and/or handout – it is nice to have something prepared to prove that you are not just winging it – but don’t fall into the trap of being boring.
  5. Know the Procedure – if you are showing slides or preparing a handout check what the procedure / technology requirements are in advance: 
    a.       Does your presentation need to be in a particular format?

    b.      Does it need to be approved in advance?

    c.       Does it need to be sent to I.T in advance?

    d.      How are you showing the slides?

    e.      Do you have to prepare the copies of the Handouts? Or Do you send to someone else in advance to prepare?

    f.        Are they to be merged with other handouts/put in a pack?
  6.  Practice and test your presentation
  7.  Be Prepared and have fun. 

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

O is for... Online Resources

Today's post is a linkage post. Below are a number of links for some great online resources for finding a job:

  1. gov.uk - Finding a Job
  2. A to Z of Careers
  3. Job Search Websites: Indeed, Fish 4 Jobs, Total Jobs, Monster and Jobsite are just a few of the general job hunting websites. Most industries also have there own specific job-hunting sites.
  4. Graduate Resources: Prospects, Milkround and Target Jobs
  5. Volunteering: DO-it!, VSO and CSV
  6. Inspiring Interns
  7. Brave New Talent 
  8. LinkedIn
Share your own in the comments :)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N is for... Networking

All I hear about these days (still) is social networking. So what about the good old-fashioned stuff - the face to face networking.

Are you still doing it?

Personally I usually try and do a minimum of one event a month. I participate in a number of free local organisations and groups. Some companies will also pay for membership fees of relevant organisations and sometimes there can be good local groups that are worth paying for membership yourself.

However, it is important to evaluate your networking experiences and make sure that they are a good use of your time. If not, move on and find something new.

Evaluate each networking event:

When evaluating your networking experiences consider:
  • How many people you met? How many you had a good conversation with and how many you got business cards from?
  • Were any of the people you met potential clients? Were there any potential clients in attendance? 
  • Did you have the opportunity to meet anyone you were specifically interested in meeting?
I try to do this at the end of each event I attend.

Evaluate whether you are particpating with good events:

When I find a good event I also find it useful to consider whether I could or should be doing more for an organisation if it runs events that I do find worthwhile. You should consider whether there any worthwhile "doing" opportunities to help you raise your profile and meet new people.

Are you simply along for the ride... observing... or are you being proactive and doing?

Re-evaluate your regular networking events:

Finally the other thing I consider and reconsider every once in a while is whether an event that had value still has value:
  • Are there too many people I already know? 
  • Am I meeting anyone new?
  • Any worthwhile connections or follow-ups come out of that particular event?
This way I continue to spend my time wisely.

 This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

Monday, 15 April 2013

M is for... Motivation

What is your motivation for getting a new job? For taking a new job? For pursuing a promotion?

Self-Motivation: Consider why you are applying for a job... consider why you have applied for the jobs you have done throughout your job history - what has been your motivation? What is your motivation now? Why are you applying for this job...

Sunday, 14 April 2013

L is for... Lists

If you read either of my Blogs you will know that I love Lists. A list that I always find interesting from a careers perspective is the The Top 100 Graduate Employers published by The Times.

Regardless of whether you are actively job hunting, or simply keeping an eye out for the *right* opportunity you should always keep a "Dream Job" list and/or a "Companies I would LOVE to work for list". 

I keep a list of places I would love to work in my goals section of my career development plan. Do you?

If not, write it now!

Running a bit late this week but for this weeks celebrating the small things with Vik Lit - my list is:
  1. continued enjoyment of the a to z challenge (this seems to have taken over my blogging life)
  2. watching all of season one of Battlestar Galactica (yes, rewatching this awesome show).
  3. enjoying a fantastic selection of cheese and crackers
  4. another new episode of doctor who
  5. attending a series of client meetings with my new supervisor and getting to know her better

Friday, 12 April 2013

K is for... Knowledge


Building up your knowledge and continued professional development is a good way of assisting with your career progression - whether it is in the early stages by helping you get on the ladder or helping you get a promotion or a client.

Knowledge is a commodity and any employee worth their salt should have both skills and knowledge. Do you have both?

What is the difference between Knowledge and Skill?

  • Knowledge refers to learning concepts, principles and information. 
  • Skill refers to the ability of using that information and applying it in a context.
I tend to think of knowledge as "Things I learned during my degree" or "things I can read in books" and skills as "things that allow me to do my job". Knowledge is usually required to put your skills into practice, but skills (or sometimes a combination of both) are what make you good at your job.

As part of your career development plan - you should sell your knowledge not just your skills.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

 Discuss: which is more important in your chosen career - knowledge, skills or both in equal measures?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

J is for... Job Histories

It is always important to keep a record of your job history. It can end up being used to populate your C.V., help find out what you love and hate about you job or help you prepare for interview.

Keep on file the key details about your previous jobs:

  1. Role / Job Description
  2. Employer
  3. Contact Details
  4. Responsibilities
  5. Skills / Training 
  6. Potential References
But you should also consider the following questions:

  1.  What did you love about the job?
  2. What did you hate about the job?
  3. Why did you take the job in the first place?
  4. Why did you leave the job? 
  5. How satisfied were you with the job?
Keep these answers handy too. It can help you evaluate potential jobs and assist in both the application and interview processes.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I is for... Interviews

an interview is not an exam

Graduates can very easily fall into the trap of treating an interview (and preparation for said interview) a bit like an exam.

  • By cramming
  • By leaving preparation to the last minute (night before or the train journey) and
  • By "winging it" 
It is important to appreciate that an interview for a job requires preparation. It is not a simple matter of reaching into the dark recesses of your brain for a nugget of information that was mentioned at a workshop six months ago. There will be new things to learn about in advance - things you might not necessarily know. This is usually (and at minimum) the background about the company you are interviewing with.

An Interview is a conversation

  • Don't get stressed when you don't know an answer - you will get prompts.
  • Don't always expect a right (and a wrong) answer 
An interview is about engaging and having a conversation. If you don't know the exact answer to a more technical question (as opposed to a personal question) intellegent conversation and a good, engaging personality may save you.

Listen to what the interviewer is saying to you, and respond to it. Don’t let the stuff that you’ve read up on or the stress/nerves crowd out the listening part of your brain so that you continue to ramble and recite prepared answers or research. Not listening is harder to recover from.

Relax and let the conversation flow.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H is for... Happiness

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

- Confucious

Bored of your job? Unhappy? Stuck in a rut?

One of my goals is to be happy in my job, truly happy. In my previous job I was happy. I had an enjoyable job, moderate pay, good set of work colleaguea. Yes, there were days I was down or frustrated, but I was happy. I woke up bright and early excited to go to work and spent most of my waking hours there. In my new job - I am still working towards being happy again.

I think one of the most frustrating things is knowing that I can be happy in my job, knowing that I have been happy and for some reason - I am just not happy anymore.

Looking back I realised it took me 6 months of " settling in time" to become properly happy even in jobs I have loved. I needed time to get to grips with the computer software, learn passwords and codes, make friends and remember names and to stop feeling like the new girl.

In my current job I have been waiting for this moment of happiness to wash over me. It hasn't and it has now reached 12 months in the same job and annoyingly I am still not happy at work. I have a great life outside of work - but given that I spend most of my hours at my 9-5 job I decided it was time to get pro-active about it and this is what I did in three easy steps.

Step One: Write 2 lists - almost like a pros-cons list. On one side write the things that make you happy and on the other side write the things that make you unhappy (or reasons that you think you are unhappy).
Step Two: Consider how to change the things that make you unhappy into things that make you happy. Work through your list one at a time (with a buddy if possible) and come up with a solution, compromise or alternative to each of the things that make you unhappy.

Step Three:  Do these things to get you one step closer to being happy.

Happiness in your career is not essential, but it does make it easier and much more fun.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

G is for ... Goals Management

Yes, another goals post and yes I seem to have goals coming out of my ears. Today is about preparing a chart for above my desk so that I can visually appreciate my goals (you can use this chart for any goals from any area of your life not just Career Development).

I moved to my new desk at work last week - it has no walls, no cubicle board space - nothing. I am just floating in the middle of the room with limited space and the motivation to keep a cleaner more organised desk. And my Chart will be going above my desk at home.

Instead of sharing an extract of the workbook with you today, I thought I would share one of the resources that will be available with the workbook: The Goals Management Chart.

The Chart is designed to be A3 in size and I will be offering it as a #flashfreebie for a limited time only (the duration of the A to Z Challenge).

The chart is simple to use - just stick up on yout wall and add your post its to it. Simply review and update when necessary.

Edit: As the challenge has now ended so has the #flashfreebie. You can still buy the download by clicking on the link below.


Saturday, 6 April 2013

F is for... Five Year Plan

Today part of me wants to mix up the alphabet and talk about Goals ('G') before discussing the Five Year Plan ('F'), but I am behaving myself.

Your goals should come into many categories - one of these includes the 5 Year Plan. Do you already have a 5 year plan? After all many interviewers will ask you "where do you see yourself in 5 years time?" Do you know?

There are many types of five year plans today I am going to look at a five year plan for a university student or recent graduate.

A 5 year plan should be more than a list of things that you want to do over the next five years. Instead it should set out a rough time frame of things that you want to achieve in your 5 year plan. The one above applies to career development from a university student's point of view - detailing exams, deadlines and interview periods.

5 year plans can also be used by writers - to outline the next 5 years of their projects. I have a 5 year plan for mine.

When writing a 5 year plan you should consider including:
  • Deadlines (all and any)
  • Conferences and Events
  • Submission Dates for Awards, Competitions, Articles etc
  • Job and Project Details and Deadlines 
  • Appraisals and Opportunities
  • Working Abroad/ Travel  

Draft your 5 year plan today.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

What is included in your 5 Year Plan?


Friday, 5 April 2013

Celebrating the Small Things - 5 April

Once again I am taking part in Vik Lit's celebrating the small things...

This week I am celebrating...

1. The extra short week... wow it is the weekend again!

2. Selling another batch of my Organisational Notebooks

3. Having a fully functional computer (if you dropped by last week you will know that I built the computer last week - it is still working).
4. Starting my new placement and getting to know some great new people.

5. Reading blogs participating in the A to Z Challenge.

Have a great weekend everyone. Thanks for dropping by.

E is for... Email

Emails - not always a great way of communication, but sometimes a necessary means of communication.

Today, we have a call to action. Your task is to send that email you have been putting off before it is too late.

There is something about actually clicking on the send button to send that all importabt email that your future career is depending on. The nerves kick in and you don't want to do it. You delay... chicken out. STOP.

Today, take that step and click send. Yes, by the end of the day I will have expected you to have clicked on send. Proof-read, finish your draft and do whatever you need to do to get you over that final hurdle and click on send.

Just don't forget to proof-read. Whether the email is to your boss, HR department, recruiter or a different contact altogether do remember that you are trying to make a good impression.


  • Prepare
  • Draft
  • Proof-read / Spell Check
  • Review
  • Check any attachments
  • Double check email address
  • One final look....

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

D is for... De-Stress (and Doodle)

Through out the Career Development Workbook are De-Stress (and Doodle) Pages, aimed at getting you relaxed, tuned into your creativity and used to the idea of actually using the book as a workbook - writing in it, drawing in it and following its instruction and guidance.

I am not going to include an "extract" of the doodle pages, instead I wanted to open a discussion regarding annotation and doodling in books.

Do you or don't you?
In regular fiction (or non-fiction) books - do you doodle, annotate, highlight, stick post-it notes or whatever else into you book?

Personally I use colouring pencils rather than highlighters and do a lot less annotations than I used to (as a student I probably had the most annotated books imaginable) but this is still something I will do. However, there are times I do prefer to keep a book in "good condition" and will use a notebook along side.

The workbook combines these. I can write and doodle keeping everything in one place (maybe supplementing it with a diary) and it is a much more useful book.

If you are the sort that like to keep their books in pristine condition (or simply don't write in them) - would you?


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group - April

So it is my first time here... taking part in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. When I am not taking part in the A to Z Challenge a lot of my blogging is about trying to inject some more writing time into my life and improving my writing.

Today I am concerned about focus. As a student I needed to eat to be able to focus (i.e. stay still long enough to actually do some work) and I have found the same thing creeping through in relation to my writing.  It makes it more enjoyable (the temporary distraction) and means that I stay in one place for longer.

Today I have a bag of prawn crackers sitting on my desk. The downside is that these are very greasy and very messy.

My concern is that I don't want this to develop into a habit and I am concerned that because I need the food to focus that I am not really enjoying it. Even know I know I do enjoy it. When I am inspired or on a roll there is no need (frankly I am scribbling furiously so I don't have time to eat). It is just that it helps me pull back and focus when I get distracted or have writer's block.

Am I alone in this?

C is for... Covering Letters

Covering letters (and CVs) are a vital part of writing any job application. What is even more important is to follow your prospective employer's instructions. If you were taught how to make a job application while at school and still use the same format - it is important to ensure that your style has been updated and that it is in an accepted format.

It has become acceptable to write your covering letter in an email (depending on your industry). Although this will usually be only if requested. If you write an email covering letter when they ask for a covering letter to be attached in full all you are showing the prospective employer is that you can't read instructions...

... so get it right. 

An email covering letter might sound easy but just because it is by email does not mean it is not hard work. It should be a detailed covering letter showing why you are a good match for the job and requires the same care and effort as a regular covering letter if not more: tailored for the job. 

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook, which has a detailed chapter on Covering Letters and CVs.

Discuss in the comments?

Covering Letters can be sent by email. Agreed. But should covering letters be in the body of the email or attached to the email - which format do you prefer (or use) and why? 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B is for... Buddy Up

Developing your career in a difficult market can be lonely. There is a reluctance to share with your peers for fear of giving them a competitive advantage over you. The people you are competing with for a job might not be the best to share everything with... so what is the alternative?

My feeling is that it is important to have a buddy of some kind. This is different from a mentor that you go to for advice, but instead it should be a friend that you can talk to about your general concerns, someone to help keep you motivated and someone to offer a helping hand, shoulder to cry on and a second opinion.

Ideally it should be someone you are (1) not in direct competition with and (2) someone who is also looking to develop their career so you can both help and motivate each other and share ideas. You should be able to talk freely with this person without fear of sounding silly or stupid.

I know it is a tall order - but you should not want anything less.

This is an extract from Putting Pen to Paper's upcoming Career Development Workbook. 

Discuss in the comments?

Do you have someone that you can talk to about your career development (or even simply your job) without holding back?

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge - do you have a blogging buddy? Someone you talk about blogging with (honestly - without holding back)?