Tag Archives: jobs

The art of shameless self-promotion

esteemIt’s appraisal (sorry, “self-development meeting”) time at work and after all the conversations at work about filling out forms listing our good qualities, goals and achievements, it’s got me thinking about the people out there who go unnoticed. I don’t know if it is the British thing of underplaying our talents and feigning bashfulness, but it just seems to me a waste of time and something that is holding so many incredible people from getting the recognition and rewards they deserve for their hard work.

I’m talking about those quite individuals who put in countless extra hours, taken on ridiculous workloads and never get the credit for it because they just brush it under the carpet and fail to point out what they are doing to their superiors. This is great for a while, but soon this extra work and time becomes expected of you and if, or when, you leave the company they will suddenly be in dire straights because they never realised quite how much you contributed. Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me as well.

I’ve been this person who gives extra time and effort to a job and have seen how it can go completely unnoticed. I have had friends who have taken on three times their workload when people have suddenly left and have been expected to continue working like this to save the company hiring more staff. It is not fair – but is the company really to blame?

paperwork

Of course, the company has a duty to its staff to make sure they are happy and that they are getting the support they need in order to work, but if we never speak up how are they supposed to know? How will our bosses ever realise our true workload and the fact that we are struggling to keep up with it, the fact that we have given up on a social life? The short answer is – they don’t! 

The problem is that so many people out there take all this extra work on and although complaining to friends, family and co-workers about it, they never complain or raise their concerns to the people who can actually do something about it! Are we scared to say to our bosses that we do work bloody hard and to list all the extra jobs we take on? Why don’t we say that we deserve more money or more recognition for what we do? And why is it so hard to say when you are overworked and need to lighten your workload?

I guess it’s something to do with fear of failure or worries over what the response might be – especially in the current climate where people are being made redundant and losing their jobs all the time. But this doesn’t mean it is right. I have so many friends who drastically undersell themselves through lack of confidence or just not knowing how to go about it. It is important when you have a meeting with your boss, when writing that CV or in interviews to make sure you sell them the very best version of yourself and to blow your own trumpet because in this world, no-one else is going to do it for you!

loveI’ve always been a firm believer in being aware of your talents and your skills and making others aware by showing them off. Now for those who are getting nervous – I don’t mean showing off by boasting, I mean making it clear what you are capable of and what you are able to take on. Remember you are the only person who is holding you back!

Here are my top tips for showing what you’re worth:

  • If you have no idea where to start, ask a friend/colleague (or your mum) to point out all the things you contribute to the workplace and your particular talents.
  • Make a list of these and practise explaining them to friends and family so that you feel confident saying it to your boss.
  • Keep your CV up-to-date even when you are  in full-time work and make sure to add any skills, first aid courses, management courses etc.
  • When you take on extra work that doesn’t come within your job description, make sure to point it out or keep a list for when you next have a meeting with your boss.
  • Remember the importance of spinning things to your advantage. You could have “sent a few Tweets” or “handled the company’s social media outlets”. Don’t downplay and realise how things sound to both your boss and future employers.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more money or a new job title – if you can lay out all the extra work you do and justify a pay rise to your boss, you are perfectly entitled to ask. You might not get it, but you will make your boss aware of your workload and that you deserve more.

SkillsAndTalentsHave you struggled to blow your own trumpet in the past? How did you overcome this?

How to get the most out of a work experience placement

Photo by Selina

Photo by Selina

I spotted a great post by Kettlemag.com the other day about how to get the best work experience in journalism – fantastic advice from Sian Elvin for up-and-coming journalists who don’t know where to begin.

It made me think about work experience and the importance of getting the most out of it while you have the opportunity because quite simply, it can completely change what you want to do with your life. I am a great example of this – I went to university where I studied English Literature and English Language and Communication thinking that I wanted to become a teacher. The summer before my final year at university, out of desperation from working at a terrible milkshake shop and card store, I wrote to the local paper and asked for work experience to save me from insanity and to have something to show for the summer.

Amazingly, they welcomed me in – I was the first person to be given the opportunity in several years because the previous editor didn’t allow it. Sheer luck? Or a great CV? I had previously done an extra course at university on perfecting your CV and highlighting your credentials, so I would like to think this is what secured me the position. I went along, smartly dressed and full of beans  for my first day at the paper. I was there for just five days, but in those five days, I wrote countless stories, worked my way through their picture tray, spoke to the public, interviewed, went out with photographers, went to court and inquests with another reporter, I was taken along to council meetings and all manner of other things. It gave me a wealth of experience and even led to me securing the front page story for that week. This incredible experience completely changed what I wanted to do with my life and career – deciding there and then that I wanted to go into journalism.

When I left, I was asked to take on a student writing column specifically about my life and adventures at university – I wrote this weekly column throughout my final year at university and loved it. I still get people, including the local MP, talking to me about it now several years on. I also was the paper’s first port of call when two reporters left their jobs quite suddenly and they found themselves short-staffed – they took me on with no qualifications and I worked there for the month before returning to university. It gave me a fantastic opportunity and helped me secure a job and training for when I finished university.

But it has become clear to me over my time working at the newspaper, when I have seen several work experience kids come in of all ages and experiences, that so many just do not have the confidence to make the most of this opportunity. Instead, many prefer to keep their heads down and struggle along instead of asking for help or guidance.

So here are my top tips for getting the most out of work experience:

  • Don’t be afraid – you are only hurting yourself by not being confident enough to ask if you are not sure, or to pipe up if you think of a good idea. Those around you will just think you don’t care or haven’t got the confidence to do the job.
  • Local is just as good as national or regional – don’t be put off by the thought of going for work experience at a local company, it can give you a much better experience where you can get stuck into a range of things while at nationals you might be left making tea instead of learning. Also, they will value your local knowledge – my knowledge of the area I have lived in all my life is greatly valued in an office with lots of workers who travel great distances to work.
  • Dress smartly and practically – don’t wear high heels if you are going to be running around all day and a short skirt is not appropriate.
  • Ask questions – very important! You are there to learn as much as possible by asking everybody questions about absolutely everything. If it is a busy office, perhaps keep a list of things you would like to know and ask if someone could talk you through them in a spare moment.
  • Don’t be rude – we had one girl in who tried to tell the editors how to do their jobs, needless to say she was not invited back.
  • Talk to everyone – for example, you may be in the editorial team but be sure to talk to people from different departments like photographic or advertising – there are lots of levels to offices and lots to learn from all members of staff, no matter how low or high up they are.
  • Don’t worry about getting stuck in the tea round – if you’re like me and don’t drink tea or coffee then the whole thing seems rather ridiculous. While it is nice to offer to make a brew for everyone, and in some establishments it will be expected, but don’t feel like you have to make one. However, it can be a great conversation starter with other departments.
  • Remember you are in a busy office/workspace – many offices work to tight deadlines and you have to remember that everyone around you has a hell of a lot more work to deal with, that looking after you adds to their workload. Don’t take this for granted and try to see if you can help ease their workload by running errands of taking on more – they will then have more time to help you or answer your questions.
  • Grab at every opportunity – always ask if you can do any more jobs whether it is writing more stories, calling people up, face-to-face interviews, going out with photographers or whatever happens in your line of work. A lot of the time the bosses will forget to send you out on stuff, but it will help you out and will show them how dedicated you are if you actively ask for things.
  • Learn as much about the company/their product(s)/their target market and anything else you can find out beforehand – it can really show you’re switched on if you can rattle off some of this stuff or apply it when in the office.
  • Take notes – copious amounts. Never arrive without a pen or notebook. These will help you remember things like computer login details, quirks of the systems, how to do things like saving stuff on to their systems and much more. It will also help if you are asking questions to note things down because it can all be a bit overwhelming and you don’t want to forget stuff.
  • When you finish your week/fortnight, be sure to ask for a meeting with the boss if you are not offered one – ask for feedback on your work over the week (this will help you hugely in future) and if there are any opportunities for further work with them either as freelance, jobs that are going or for further work experience/internships. Also, if you are in need of a reference, this can be useful for further work experience applications.

So there you have it – my top tips for making the most of a placement. Don’t waste the opportunity – they are few and far between in today’s job market and you really can’t afford to not take advantage of the situation. Just be sure to make it work for you as well – don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel you aren’t getting much out of the week, just do it in such a way that you suggest things you could do to help them rather than saying it is rubbish.

Have you got any work experience tips? Share them below.