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Flexible Careers

Glide Back Into Work After A Career Break With Wells Fargo

The returner programme from Wells Fargo to help you Glide back into a finance career, a bank that values its people. 

If you’ve worked in finance but been on a voluntary career break for 2 years or more, let’s be really honest; the prospect of returning to work full-time can feel daunting. 

Then add into the mix the last 18 months haven’t exactly been ‘normal’ for anyone and suddenly the prospect of work becomes nerve-wracking.

While many of us are desperate for a change and new work opportunities, any opportunity would ideally be delivered with kindness and compassion. 

Nobody needs to be chucked straight into the deep end of a new job to see whether they sink or swim, that’s a tactic best retired to the pre-pandemic work history books. 

If finding a ‘compassionate new opportunity’ is resonating with you, then please, please READ ON! 

Find Your Flex are helping American Bank Wells Fargo, spread the word on their amazing Returners Programme, aptly named Glide. 

Wells Fargo are a bank with a genuine people-centric approach towards employees and client’s alike. 

If you’ve got several years finance experience under your belt and want to take part in an 8-week Returner Programme to test the waters with a potential new employer, then this FULLY PAID* internship-style programme, could be exactly the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. 

(*at what your full-time salary would be should you be offered a role after the 8-week virtual programme). 

Wells Fargo are recruiting across their London, Dublin and Düsseldorf offices and this programme gives you a brilliant opportunity to get to know the company and glide into work in the most supported way. 

Here’s our FYF impartial run-down to the Glide programme and Wells Fargo as a prospective employer.

Glide Relaunch Internship 

Starting this September 2021 for 8 weeks, this virtual programme will help anyone who’s been out of the workplace for 2 years or more, due to personal commitments. 

In years gone by, prolonged time away from work was considered a bad thing. 

The opposite is true for this bank. 

They honestly value diverse talent and unique life experiences. 

They understand unconventional pathways can actually contribute to higher levels of success and appreciation in a work setting. How refreshing is that? 

Over the 8-week course, you would be fully supported by a Program Manager (albeit virtually at the moment), who will ensure you have the time you need to update and refresh your skills and undergo any further training that may be required. 

There’s also ample opportunity to network with senior & successful leaders from across the business, who are more than happy to share their expertise and knowledge, providing you with everything you need, should you want to become a future leader yourself, should become the right path for you.  

You’ll also meet the very best of Wells Fargo talent and get time to really interact with them. This will give you an honest feel for the unique values and culture at the heart of the business, from that all-important employee perspective. You’ll also engage with the line of business you’d be considering working a full-time role within, if the fit feels right at the end of those 8 weeks. 

If you want to see some previous candidate experiences from candidates that went through the Glide programme in the U.S last year, take a look at these stories. 

Wells Fargo as a Find Your Flex Employer of Choice? 

As the quest for diversity and inclusion within UK business finally gets the attention it needs, you’ll be reassured to know this bank has passionately believed in the value of diversity & progress, since its inception in 1852. 

Wells Fargo is constantly striving to make their organisation as diverse and representative as possible and aim to foster an inclusive culture within every office. 

While we don’t believe in stereotyping at Find Your Flex, currently the majority of participants on UK Returner schemes are female and there’s no getting away from it yet. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, 1.8 Million UK women (and 0.2 million men) leave paid employment to take care of their family. 

These figures exclude the very small number of mothers or carers who receive small amounts of paid income. 

Given this sobering stat, we felt it was important to highlight the Wells Fargo median gender pay gap of 11.8% in 2020, which was down (at 19.4%) on 2019 figures. 

When you consider the average gender pay gap across the broad spectrum of “finance” is 31%, this is worth celebrating. 

They really do welcome the fresh perspectives that diverse views bring and that’s really important for any employee to know, when making a decision about where to invest your time and next career move. Every voice needs to be valued and heard. 

The Wells Fargo 2017-2020 Diversity and Inclusion strategy collaborated with the EMEA Diversity Council and the UK Women’s Team Member Network (TMN) to increase female equality and their female senior leadership model continues into 2021; this extended role out of the Glide Returner Programme into the UK being a large part of it and they actively encourage female employees across the EMEA countries, to take up mentoring roles. 

Those all-important Employee Benefits? 

Employees get a brilliant selection of benefits which can be personalised to support their health and well-being, retirement, financial security, and work-life needs, including time off to participate in community service activities that are of meaning to them. 

The financial benefits, as you may expect from a bank, are genuinely ‘valuable’. Employees will be impressed with the level of financial security they will be offered. A comfort to know you’d be prepared should life ever throw a curveball at you and your family.  

In terms of annual leave, you get 25 days holiday and they have a Paid Time Off (PTO) purchase programme, allowing staff to buy up to an additional 5 days leave. 

Plus, they have Emergency Back Up Care – if your regular arrangements for dependents aren’t available. Something every parent or carer will find very reassuring to know is there, even if you never need to use it. 

And finally – are they really ‘Flexible’? 

At the moment, all Wells Fargo employees are remote but will be expected to return to the office from October or November in a hybrid model. 

Agreements will be put in place between individuals and their Line Manager. 

Across EMEA they operate according to the Flexible Work Arrangement which refers to a long or short-term arrangement which can modify an individual’s working hours / pattern or location of work in an adhoc, fixed term or permanent basis. 

If you feel Wells Fargo could be the employer for you, apply today:

Wells Fargo – Glide back into the workforce

Categories
Flexible Careers

Simple Steps To Move Forward With Your Career This Summer

Summer is when most people want to switch off and take a break from dealing with their careers. Job search and hiring slows down, people go on holiday and thinking about ways to get ahead with your career is probably not top of the list. We want to have fun and enjoy time with family and friends.

However, who says you cannot do both? Why not carve out some time and be smart about your career activities so that you can enjoy the summer and take small steps to move your career forward.

Here are five simple steps you could take this summer:

Socialise and build connections

Why not make the most of BBQs, social meet ups and other fun events happening over the summer and meet as many interesting people as possible. Plant seeds and let people know what you are thinking of doing next in your career. Could you spearhead a meet up with old colleagues this summer? Forge new relationships and re-connect with old friends? Use LinkedIn to connect professionally and develop your network?

Build a schedule

With the summer comes longer days, ensure your career does not go by the wayside by putting some time aside to make this your focus. This might be as little as 15 minutes a day or an hour a week. Small steps will go a long way to move you forward and boost your motivation, knowing you are progressing.

Career planning map

Carve out some time to reflect on what your next career steps are. You could use a mind map to help you brainstorm your ideas. What role do you want to move into? What industry do you want to work in? What kinds of companies are you interested in? Get your career planning completed ready to start marketing your skills and expertise for the role you want this September. If you are stuck you may like to check out our Career Clarity course [hyperlink https://www.coachingpartners.co.uk/career-clarity], which provides flexible learning over the summer to fit in around you.

Learn something new

Learning something new can have a great impact on our physical and mental well-being. This could be just what you need to spark some new creativity and motivation or get a fresh perspective on your career. 

Update your LinkedIn profile

Taking small steps to get career ready does not need to take a huge amount of time. Why not dedicate an hour a week over 3 weeks to refresh your LinkedIn profile ready to market your skills and expertise after the holidays or simply to start building connections and set up automated job searches. 

You can enjoy the summer and push forward with your career plans. These simple steps will help you get career ready for September.

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Business Mums Returning To Work Shared Parental Leave

Parental Leave At Nestlé – A New Era?

Parental leave – or maternity and paternity leave as it is commonly known – has been under scrutiny for some time. The introduction of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) in 2015 was a small step towards recognising both parents play a significant role in the first year of a child’s life. However, with only 7% of workers taking advantage of this (You Gov and Winckworth), is there more to be done by organisations themselves?

In theory SPL offers a solution to gender equality. However, it hasn’t created the big shift it intended to do. There are also many more factors to consider as parents. Birth recovery, for birth-giving parents, breastfeeding and bonding with their new child is important. However, often comes the burden of feeling like this extended leave will be detrimental to career progression for mothers. Fathers – who in most cases get the grand total of two weeks off which can suffer with a severely impacted work-life-balance. Fathers miss important milestones with their children and this out-dated, traditional model simply reinforces mum dealing with the kids, dad going to work.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Of course, if this suits your family, there is nothing wrong with this. But what about for those families where this isn’t ideal? Also for same-sex parents and adoptive parents, leave entitlement can be significantly less in some organisations. Traditional parental leave and SPL do not offer the choices some parents’ desire. It is therefore down to the organisations themselves in charge of such policies to take action.

One organisation that has done just that is Nestlé. They recognised the balance of family life and work are of paramount importance to employees. Thus saw the need for change and modernisation. Nestlé introduced their Parental Support Policy.

For Nestlé there are no longer separate policies and entitlements for maternity, paternity, adoption and surrogacy leave. They have done a fantastic job of bringing all scenarios into one policy. Not only is this incredibly easy for employees to navigate, it also encourages a gender-neutral approach. Additionally, employees are eligible for parental leave from day one of employment. As a Career Coach working mainly with mums, I know all too well the stories of “sticking it out”. Staying in a job you aren’t happy in simply because you need the good maternity leave on offer from your employer. With this available from day one at Nestlé, this will no doubt also support their hiring and attraction strategy.

Parental Leave – The Nestlé Way

The core element of the new parental leave policy at Nestlé centres around choosing to take Primary or Secondary Caregiver leave. As Primary, this looks and feels a lot like standard maternity leave (Up to 52 weeks of leave, pay up to 18 weeks with 10 KIT Days). Secondary Caregiver Leave is much more generous than standard paternity leave. Secondary Caregiver Leave allows you to take up to 12 weeks off at any stage within the first year of the new child entering your family. Four of these are fully paid. The key thing is either can apply to you – whether you are giving birth or not.

I shared some of the detail with some working mum groups on Facebook. Some were a little shocked. Why would a mum only want 12 weeks off? Doesn’t she need to recover and establish breastfeeding? Don’t the titles reinforce stereotypes of being a primary or a secondary carer for your own child? My answer to all of this is, “but isn’t in fantastic to have the choice? Isn’t it wonderful to not dictate what should happen in your family because of gender or route to having a child?”

The reality is, since the introduction of the policy just 7% of those taking primary caregiver leave have been male. However, prior to the policy, the option would not have been available in this form – only via the constraints of SPL could they have got anywhere near. We can expect numbers to increase as at present it’s early stages.

Holly Birkett, Co-Director of the Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham, has spoken about the positive knock-on effect. “While at an individual level more time off and maternity pay for women may look positive, actually it can lead to more women dropping out and it affecting their earnings and career progression (negatively) over time,” she says.

Having a choice about parental leave at Nestlé is key

Several of those I conversed with about this policy really saw the benefit. The key theme being the benefit of choice. Many birth-giving mothers may well still take Primary Caregiver Leave. However, for any that would prefer to return to work sooner, there is now a choice.

Nic Hammarling, Head of Diversity at Pearn Kandola says “I constantly hear from men that they want the opportunity to take a more active role in caring for their children. However, many are intimidated by the idea of asking their employer for time off work. In a workplace environment, to be nurturing and caring isn’t often expected of men and. As such, many are wary of the backlash they may receive for asking for time away to be with their children. Increasing paternity leave from two to four weeks, for example, could actually move us further away from equality because it still reinforces that the mother should be the primary carer,” she has said. With Nestlé’s policy not stating maternity or paternity, but allowing parents to choose the role they take is a huge move towards a more equal space.

This benefit was also noted by a mum who works in a senior role within FMCG. She shared “I would imagine, when a father-to-be shares that the baby is on the way, just having this policy in place means a conversation happens. A Conversation at work that asks which type of leave best suits his family. This results in a further conversation at home to make that decision. This can only be positive as it triggers the switch to talk about balance. To talk about who will do what and how involved will each parent be. It allows the father to have a conversation he may not otherwise have felt comfortable raining himself at work. If this was an option for my husband when my children were born, I think we would have gone for it. At least with the second one – with my partner taking Primary Caregiver Leave”.

Nestlé supporting decisions

The mum I quote above is right. Nestlé provide all parents to be with a decision tree to help them figure out which type of leave best suits their family unit. They also ensure parents know that they can take advantage of parental mentoring through the Parent Pal mentoring scheme, join the online parenting community Parent Talk, and use an online parent coaching app to further support their parenthood journey.

There of course is still a long way to go to get this totally right. I doubt as a society we will ever reach the perfect plan for parental leave. As more organisations shift their thinking as Nestlé has, we will begin to see the change we all hope for.

Nestlé and inclusivity

Of course many families will still choose to take the more traditional pattern of leave. This is totally fine – not everybody needs or wants to do anything different. But by allowing choice and recognising all parents equally, Nestlé at least are moving towards becoming much more, truly inclusive. I can’t wait to see the journey at Nestlé and learn more about phase two.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

Categories
Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Productivity & Flexibility

Changing Workplace Behaviours, Is It Just The Responsibility Of The Employer?

Here at The Find Your Flex group we talk a lot about flexible working, it is after all the bread and butter of what we do! But, recently we’ve also been talking a lot about output models of work too. Over the years our thoughts around flexible working have evolved. We really feel output based working is the key to TRUE flexible working. We’d love to see employers embrace judging an employee on their output over how, when and where they work.

We know organisations are at various stages of implementing change when it comes to the way we work. It’s no secret that the pandemic has forced many into implementing changes quicker than expected. It’s also clear that those who already worked flexibly adapted much quicker.

As with any major change in culture and behaviours, all stakeholders need to be committed if it is to be a success. Therefore employers and managers need to be able to adopt, drive, support and manage the change. But we feel employees also have a responsibility.

Who is really responsible for making this work?

There are endless reports, articles, blogs and opinion pieces about what the future holds – what do employees want? Back to the office? Home-working? A hybrid model? The focus is endlessly on what employers are doing to respond to ensure a better work model for their employees, with the core focus on location of work and it’s flexibility. We understand driving organisational cultural change is multifactorial and a hugely studied area. Of course strong and ethical leadership is key to driving positive change. But, We wanted to explore the responsibility of the employee too.

What responsibility do employees have in making any such future models a success? What can we do as employees to ensure the result is a success. Perhaps it’s the way we engage.

Engagement and wellbeing is a collective responsibility!

Employers have a responsibility to provide the tools, the tech and the trust, but we must be the adopters and change agents to ensure a culture that is a success. If we wish to be trusted, we must also trust – our employers and our colleagues. We must be transparent in what is and isn’t working for us and in sharing and communicating with others. If we are leaders ourselves, ensuring we engage our teams is critical.

The organisations who prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing – and who have the workforce that embed this into their culture – will be the winners, and so will their employees. Allowing people the time and tech to work remotely is a minute part of the journey we are on. For an output model to work we need to engage in ways that may be unfamiliar to regular working practices. It will be the way we engage new joiners. The way we empower teamwork. How we lead by example and foster a culture of inclusivity and engagement like never before.

Avoiding Burnout

For many employees, an output model may be the ideal to flex around our lives. But, there still exists the real danger of burnout and exhaustion. For example if home-working forms a part of this, boundaries are blurred. The work-day is often extended and mental well-being can be affected when the commute time, often used to transition from work to home mentally, is erased.

If output is the pure focus, could there be danger of over-working to achieve these outputs – not speaking out if the load is too high? Employers need to provide space for employees to use their voice, but employees need to then respond. Employees will have a period of time in which they need to adapt. To have conscious boundaries and strategies to look after their wellbeing. When we are not in the office it is harder for colleagues to notice changes in mood and overload. Again, we are collectively responsible for creating the culture of a team whilst not necessarily being in the same location at the same time.

Office dynamics – the invisible employees

Several people I have spoken to recently, who previously were all for at least a hybrid model, if not 100% remote, are already seeing a shift in dynamics. One mum shared recently when she went to the office for the first time in a year, the dynamic was entirely different. There were a much larger proportion of men present plus younger colleagues who do not have family commitments nor the space to work easily from home. 

On the one hand it was great to see those that needed to be in could be, but she shared fears mums disappearing and this turning round to bite us on the bum. If output is the focus, the output of those that choose to not be visibly present in the office must be recognised. Mums have been the most impacted group of the workforce due to the pandemic. There is clearly a need to ensure a divide is not upon us – mums at home, men and younger people in the office resulting in an “out of sight, out of mind” issue that in turn affects perceived output and involvement in decisions.

Engage and remain engaged

To me this all shows the key thing is choices and well-thought out decisions by both employers and employees. We need to find ways to engage but also take responsibility to remain engaged. To demonstrate our output positively. To not slip from a presenteeism culture for all pre-pandemic, to recognition for presenteeism, within groups that choose to be office based, post-pandemic.

A truly flexible, output model must be based on trust. Maybe the next steps in this new world should see employees measured on a whole host of success markers that did not exist in the working world pre-Covid. Imagine if we could be measured not only on results, but on engagement of ourselves in our hybrid world and engagement of others; on wellbeing metrics to ensure we are able to perform healthily which in turn makes for better output.

The positives are clear – we have many choices opening up to us. We may decide to live somewhere else as we don’t need to commute to the office everyday. We hopefully will have a degree of choice of how working hours fit into our lives – as long as we get the results needed. What is also clear is this cannot be to the detriment of our mental health where we all become islands of solo workers allowing loneliness and burnout to creep in. We all have a responsibility to make this work for ourselves and those around us.

The author

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

Categories
Child Care Dads Flexible Careers Flexible Industries Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mental Health Mums Returning To Work Parenting and Work Productivity & Flexibility Work Journeys

Working in a Post-Covid World.

March 23rd 2020. The day we heard our Prime Minister say “From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home”. The day working from home, indefinitely, began.

Fast-forward over 13 months. Many are still working full-time from home. Some are gradually finding their way back to the office. There are organisations that have managed things brilliantly and seen this as an opportunity to shape flexible working. Some have managed things terribly and are already making unnecessary demands to fully return to the office, with no clear business need. Some employees are desperate to get back, some are desperate to retain the flex they have had forced upon them.

As we emerge from these unprecedented times, the waters feel muddy. There is little consistency across employers or industries. What is clear is that many of us are feeling the burn out from living at work with little to no break and a year of no holidays.

So how are we planning for the post-Covid future?

Many organisations have hit the press for their positive moves towards supporting employees well-being and flexibility. For example, Dropbox have made working from home a permanent move. Microsoft is moving to a 50:50 homeworking to office working model. John Lewis head office is taking a hybrid or blended working approach. Having spoken to a wide range of parents, the general consensus seems to be a 50% office based role will become the norm.

These approaches make total sense given a study by The University Of Southampton found nine in ten employees feel they had got at least as much, if not more, work done at home as in the office. Employees also shared that they have benefited from the flexibility to organise their tasks and discretion to make decisions about when they do their work from home.

How this effects parents?

Whilst it is clear from this study and many others – such as the research conducted by the childcare provider, Bright Horizons – working parents are overwhelmingly in favour of a continuation of flexible hours and some form of hybrid working. Christelle who works for a large energy company shared:

Having the flexibility to do the school run and eat together at the start and end of the day as a family, has had a huge positive impact on our family dynamic”.

Likewise John, who works for an IT company said:

The time I have had to become more involved in my son’s life has been amazing. If allowed to continue, I believe this will have a life-long impact to our relationship, having been around so much in his formative years”.

It is also clear the general consensus is that the pandemic has allowed us to prove such a model could work. However, more than half of employees involved in the Bright Horizons research thought their employers were likely to be unresponsive to demands for greater flexibility once the pandemic dissipates. Denise Priest of Bright Horizons shared “There seems to be disagreement between some organisations and their workers about what normality should mean”. This is backed up by the research I conducted. A mum working for a large US Bio-sciences organisation is shared her worries that, “whilst all the right things are being done now, will these have the longevity that society needs?”

So what is the right answer?

The only very clear thing in all of this is one size does not fit all. We knew this anyway, but employees, pre-covid, bent over backwards in many case to mould themselves, their families and other commitments to fit the requirements of work. Whilst we have been missing social contact, there is a clear preference amongst the majority of parents to combine office with working from home in the future. Seven in ten (73%) employees wish to adopt a hybrid work arrangement – blending working from home with the communality of the office – and to retain the flexibility and control over their working pattern from which they have benefited under lockdown.

I am hearing of a huge amount of examples of organisations asking their employees what works for them? One FMCG company has even gone as far as introducing a whole new contractual way of working. Allowing some individuals to work on a retained project basis. They are then able to dictate their working hours – fitting work to their lives, rather than fitting life to their work.

All this said, there are some that working from home is not good for. I say “not good for” because I don’t just mean convenience. I mean their mental health is suffering because of the isolation this can bring. If you are younger, live alone or in a shared house environment. If you wish to reap the social rewards of the young, working generation. Many of these people NEED the office environment in order to protect their mental health. This sentiment was clearly shared by one person I spoke with from the Oil & Gas industry, who said:

I have genuine concerns for a single, female colleague who has clearly struggled mentally with the stay at home message”.

Flexible Working is the way forward.

It truly feels the power is shifting. People have proven a flexible model to suit individuals – IS achievable. There are organisations taking this on board and adapt to their staff. Allowing work to fit with life, rather than forcing employees into an unmanageable, unsustainable, unnecessary, unhealthy work pattern. These organisations will be the winners in the long run.

The 2021 Modern Families Index Spotlight points to potential discord ahead. 55% of respondents indicate their loyalty to their employer long term depends on employer’s reaction to the pandemic and beyond. As they continue to attempt to juggle work, child care and care of elderly relatives. Employers who recognise the priority of family life and provided practical support for staff will retain – and gain – talented employees. While those who have not will lose out. John, who I mentioned earlier, working in IT, very honestly shared this with me:

I will seek alternative employment if pushed too far to revert to old ways of working. It is clear this is a preference, but with no clear justification, in my organisation. Which could result in me seeking alternative employment”.

What about well-being support?

It seems many organisations are focusing on what the working week should look like. However, what hasn’t been shared as broadly is what organisations are doing to support the mental well-being of employees.

The University of Southampton Study shared that maintaining working from home during the pandemic, whilst may have been in some ways more efficient, has taken its toll on mental health and well-being. In fact, responses on this area in their study found ranking very low. 47 out of 100 – measured against the World Health Organisation WHO-5 global standard. AXA back this up further. Finding that two-thirds (64%) of those working across the UK and Europe said their stress levels increased compared to pre-pandemic. Of these, eight out of ten (81%) describe themselves as having a “poor” or “low” state of mind.

Given for many the kitchen table has become the office with home / work boundaries becoming uncontrollably blurred. It stands to reason that burnout is a very real prospect.

What are the effects of this?

On the flip side, organisations are planning for future and maybe even dictate what this future will look like. Although it may be that some do not feel ready to commute or be in the office. A mum working for a small start up shared with me:

I am not prepared to return until I am vaccinated. This has already happened for my boss so we are at slight odds around timing. Which is causing a bit of of stress and anxiety”.

Some have been shielding, may have vulnerable family members. Many have adapt childcare provisions and may not easily be able to reinstate wrap around care. Either because it is not available or because they are not inclined to revert back to the old ways. Such as running from breakfast club, to the train, to work, to after school clubs. And various other activities without having a minute for any family member to breathe.

As a backdrop the pandemic has triggered significant emotional, physical, and economic burdens:

  • Social isolation,
  • Working from home while caring for children and other family members
  • Exposure to the virus – personally, via loved ones, or from working on the front line
  • Experiences of long-covid

Mental health care advocates believe Covid can cause many to suffer from something close to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In August 2020 the CDC published results of a large US web-based survey of more than 5000 adults. In which over 40% demonstrated experiencing at least one adverse mental or behavioural health problem related to the pandemic. Including symptoms of anxiety or depression (30.9%), substance use to cope (13.3%) and considering suicide (10.7%). This suggests a flexible work environment is something employers must consider when working in a post-covid world.

What needs to be done?

Many parents have shared a number of initiatives their organisations are doing to support well-being. These include

  • virtual coffee chat drop-ins
  • no-meeting days
  • access to counselling
  • well-being allowances
  • access to the office for those struggling working from home

but is this enough?

Workers have proved they are highly adaptable in these unusual times. One senior music industry employee shared, the pandemic has propelled flexible working forward by ten years, if done right. However, employers’ focus must now be on well-being. On supporting people through this next phase of transition. Above all else it is our well-being and mental health that has suffered most. I wonder how well organisations will take account of this as a factor of our return? This is a whole new phase. A positive shift hopefully, but one that needs managing with great care and support.

For other insights into this subject, why not have a read on The Real Gender Impact of Covid-19. And the struggles women have faced during and potentially post-covid.

Categories
Career Change Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

How Important Is Your CV To Gaining Employment?

“I must get my CV updated!” “I haven’t done one for years – I have no idea where to start!” “How will I explain my career break?” “What’s the best format to write my CV in?” “How can I make my CV work for me when I want to change career?”

These are statements I hear several times a week. The CV is still perceived as the ticket to a job by many. The make or break of those endless applications… Do we still need to be wedded to our CVs in this way? Are employers primarily focussed on the content of your CV? How long do they even spend reading your carefully crafted document you spent hours perfecting?

Your CV in Six seconds.

Six seconds is the average time a Recruiter spends scanning a CV at the application stage. It doesn’t balance with the hours you put into it does it?

At this point in time, CVs still form a part of a recruitment process in most cases. Even if other assessment methods are used at the application stage, we are still very likely to be asked to submit a CV.

However, with 72% of organisations reporting at the start of 2020 they struggle to find the right skill set via CV applications – despite an average of 250 applicants per role (Gurvinder Singh –TechRank) -are CVs the best tool for recruiting? Based on these stats, they aren’t working. But why?

It could have something to do with the six second scan time I mentioned above! It could be due to a CV really only representing how good you are at writing a CV. If you are great at packing loads of potential keywords into your CV so an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) flags you as a good fit, you will get an interview. If you have great skills but your CV doesn’t have the keywords, maybe you won’t be invited for the next stage.

CVs are highly impacted by reader’s interpretation and unconscious(and conscious) bias. Is English your second language? If your CV isn’t written as eloquently due to this, you may be rejected, despite being a great fit for the job. A CV is a page of words. A picture is formed from it’s contents and inferences are made unconsciously. A CV does not demonstrate how good we are at anything, how much support we had or if our skills are actually a bit rusty.

So what is the answer?

I mentioned keywords – if I could give one tip it would be to get as many keywords, that fit the job description, into your CV as possible! That way you are more likely to get through the ATS. But if CVs are essentially just a piece of paper reflecting how good we are at writing CVs, what more can we do?

Sticking with CVs for a moment, there are other ways to write or present them.

Skills based CVs

Skills based CVs are becoming increasingly popular. This is a small shift but allows you to present your skills or competencies on the first page – outlining what you good at and how you have demonstrated them in various roles. You can then list your chronological experience on the second page but with no need for lots of detail. The point of this is to pull out the relevant stuff and hit the reader with it off the bat, on page one. Abby Clandon, a Recruiter within the care sector shared she “doesn’t mind what type of CV we receive, as long as it displays why (you) are the right candidate… A combination of skills based with chronological content is best”.

Matthew Metcalfe of Covea Insurance Plc went as far as saying that the “CV plays a tiny part in identifying talent… the most important moment is when we get to speak to the candidates”. Which got me thinking, we need to be talking to Recruiters and hiring managers as soon as possible – ideally before a role is even advertised!

Networking

Business Insider has reported upwards of 70% of jobs never reach the job boards. 70%! Another reason the traditional “apply with your CV route” is possibly dying out. This of course opens up all sorts of arguments around equal opportunities etc, but it is happening whether we agree with it or not. So the “I must update my CV” is not the best place to start.

Networking is vital. If you have been able to speak to someone, build a relationship before the request for a CV comes. You are definitely more than a few steps ahead. It also means, if a CV is requested you will already have insider info ensuring your CV is more relevant. As Abby Clandon shared, the key thing she looks for is passion for the area of work. So much so in fact her organisation doesn’t even insist on sending a CV. Their assessment is primarily focussed on a values based interview.

Video CV

Getting your personality, your passion and your skills across to a potential employer will definitely make you stand apart from the crowd of Word documents and PDFs. Video CVs are becoming more popular in the graduate space and in the US. There is no reason these cannot be used for professional roles here in the UK. Of course you will want to stick to the application criteria, which may include a written CV. But there is nothing stopping you supplementing your application with a short, 1-2 minute intro video. A short intro to you, why you want the job and what you can bring to it. This is like giving them that first impression they would get in a face-to-face interview, but much earlier on.

Get Creative with your CV

We have all read the stories about people mailing boxes of cakes to employers with their CV printed over the box. This would be great for a Graphic Designer for example, but maybe not so much for an Accountant. That said – why not?

I have seen people turn CVs into QR codes printed across a picture of their face. IT professionals converting their CVs into a mini video game. Ok, cakes or video games may not play to your strengths, but finding ways to stand out that are relevant to your industry and reaching the right Recruiters and Hiring Managers may well get you a meeting. At least purely on the basis of standing out.

Visual CVs

Whilst based on the format of a traditional CV, this tool allows you to produce a document accessible via a link. You can embed video, blogs, PowerPoint documents and more. This allows you to easily amend your visual CV to match potential jobs or to send whilst networking. This is a great choice for those that still wish to have a document (you can download as a PDF) whilst adding more personal touches to get your personality across.

So what does all this mean? The traditional CV doesn’t seem to be disappearing, but it isn’t the only tool in your box. Rather than agonising over your CV as your first step into your job search, switch your focus. Add more to your Linked In profile to make it relevant for the job you want. Make use of video or visual tools to supplement your networking and applications. You will stand a better chance of getting noticed. Whilst employers still use CVs, as technology progresses it is likely they will become less and less important. I can’t say you no longer need one, but make use of the tools out there get more creative, more adaptable – more YOU! It is YOU that will get the job – your CV, is simply your sales and marketing tool.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

For more advice on CV’s:

How To Approach A CV When You’ve Had A Career Break

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Imposter Syndrome – Fix Bias, Not Women

Imposter Syndrome. We have all heard of it. If you are a high-achieving female you may well think you have it. If you don’t, you will know many others that do.  But, what if Imposter Syndrome isn’t real? What if it is a resulting factor of society and biology combined?

The 66% of women ‘suffering’ with Imposter Syndrome (according to a study by Access Commercial Finance) may be shouting “no, it’s definitely real”. Bare with me…

You can loosely define imposter syndrome as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Where did Imposter Syndrome come from?

Psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes developed the concept. Originally termed “imposter phenomenon,” in their 1978 founding study. The study focused on 150 high-achieving women. They recorded that “despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”

This study, despite it being based on just 150 participants, spurred decades of development programmes and initiatives. These were all in an effort to address imposter syndrome in women. Many high-profile women have shared they suffer with IS. Examples include – former First Lady Michelle Obama and Tennis champion Serena William. If you want to find out how to “overcome” Imposter Syndrome, a quick Google search shows up more than 5 million results.

What if Women Aren’t The Problem?

What’s less well explored, is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place. The advent came with the study mentioned above in 1978, but what about before then? Did it just not happen? Or has something changed in society or with “sufferers” that has resulted in this pandemic?

A theory I subscribe to is that workplace systems and simple biology may have a lot to answer for. Currently, women are almost blamed for having Imposter Syndrome. They are told they are suffering and need to overcome it. They are ‘diagnosed’ with a condition. So, it must be down to them.

Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey explored this further. Their published findings, in a Harvard Business Review article, share “imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests… Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”

Maybe You Are Just Normal!

Feeling uncomfortable, second-guessing yourself and mild anxiety are all normal. These feelings are more prevalent in women at work. Men of course experience similar feelings. However, men are often selected based on capability rather than history. The opposite is true for women. It stands to reason if you haven’t done a certain thing before suddenly you feel out of your depth. As a man’s potential is validated over time, feelings of doubt are reduced. Add on the fact men are easily able to find role models in the workplace. Mentors who are like them and are less inclined to question their competence. It therefore makes sense that these very normal feelings have a lesser impact and are less likely to be labelled.

Women experience the opposite. We question if we have the credentials we need to achieve. We hear “women often suffer with Imposter Syndrome”. In fact career development programmes aimed at women almost always have a session on “overcoming imposter syndrome”. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When women demonstrate strength, ambition, and resilience, they are often described as “aggressive” or “overly assertive”. The idea of imposter syndrome doesn’t take account of workplace dynamics and suggests women need to deal with the “issue”instead.

Men Are From Mars…

It is a biological fact women are programmed to be more risk averse. They are more likely to be perfectionists. Jessica Baker, a Business Psychologist, says we are wired to not step too far into the unknown – left from when we needed fear to protect us, and our young. Also, there are a disproportionate number of men in leadership roles. This means falsely equating confidence with certain traits that are most often demonstrated by male leaders. We then interpret these traits as competence and leadership. Thus, if we don’t have these certain male dominant traits, we question ourselves, decide we lack confidence and diagnose Imposter Syndrome.

Fixing Bias and Society – Not Women

The “fix women’s imposter syndrome” narrative has persisted, decade after decade. Perhaps instead workplaces should focus on creating a culture for women that addresses bias.

In the mid-1990s Clance, the ‘founder’ of Imposter Syndrome suggested the impostor phenomenon could also be attributed as far back as the way girls are communicated with as children. People would compliment girls on being “pretty” and “chatty”. Whilst “Brave” and “intelligent” used for boys. These concepts can define us. It is therefore easier to put success down to luck or being liked. Not individual success.

All this said, I do not totally dismiss Imposter Syndrome as “a thing”. But, I do wonder if

  • we address healthy, normal self-doubt via supportive work cultures,
  • seeing more women in positions of leadership and
  • not using vague feedback like “you need to better develop your leadership qualities”.

we may be in a better place.

Is Imposter Syndrome is a stand-alone syndrome? Or is it a result of complex societal, biological and workplace factors? Either way, it still affects us.

Then how do we deal with it? Ask yourself “where is the evidence that you are doing a terrible job or making bad decisions?”. The fear is irrational. Your current experience of it is often far worse than the negative outcome you are anticipating.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents, find their paths back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

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Management- Where is the female talent?

A third of organisations globally have no female talent in senior management roles (market-inspector.co.uk).  This was reported before Covid, it has been reported Covid has had a disproportionate impact on the careers of women. A LinkedIn study found that women were less likely to be hired than men during peak lockdown periods. Despite more women being made redundant or leaving jobs. 

There are so many things that may be contributing to these damaging statistics. Are women not applying to roles due to prioritisation of the overwhelming childcare and home-schooling plunged upon them? Are men not doing enough to support women and so they feel they can’t apply for a new job? Do organisations discourage their male employees requesting the flexibility that would allow their female partners to re-engage into the workforce? Or are organisations not considering female talent in the same volume as those from men? And therefore, even if unintentionally, contributing to these statistics?

Given the data recently shared by Find Your Flex, it is clear, that application clicks are 79% female. 47% of their audience is male, this demonstrates there is a wealth of female talent actively seeking high value jobs. 

Sssshhhh… Daddy’s working

Sadly still live in a time where, in many households, women are seen as the parent. That they should do the lions share of childcare and household chores. Even when the playing field of working hours and the impact of the pandemic is equal. I hear endless comments from working mums across the country saying things like “it’s so hard trying to get it all done – the home-schooling and working plus trying to keep them from interrupting daddy all day”. Why can’t daddy be interrupted?! 

Of course it is not my place to judge how households decide to cope during this totally dire time. But if it has just been assumed the responsibility of the kids falls to mum then, please, for the sake of women across the land have a conversation. Plot out what needs to be done – all the home-schooling, chores – everything – and decide who does what. If this impacts daddy’s work schedule then, just like mummy, he needs to find ways to accommodate. (I should say here I know this isn’t the case in all households. Many dads are brilliant at sharing the load. But many just haven’t realised it’s a shared responsibility, or see their job as not flexible… Did they ask?).

It is okay to let go you know.

Women also need to let go. We cannot control everything. I had a word with myself at the start of this home-school period. I couldn’t be the gate-keeper – being the only one that can log onto Google Classroom and hand in work. The only one that remembers to look for supermarket deliveries and figures out what to eat every day. I sat and gave my husband a Google Classroom lesson on day two as day one almost broke me.

I don’t check the work hubby now does with the kids. He and the kids enjoy him engaging with them and seeing their learning. I don’t walk around in a passive aggressive mumbling rage so much as last time. Winning all round! The kids don’t get their iPads if their beds aren’t made and the playroom isn’t tidy. Mums need to relinquish responsibility and trust someone else to do some of what they see as their load. If not we will never have time or headspace to find that career opportunity which is waiting there for us.

Scared to say the ‘F’ word

But back to this 79% of females applying to roles on Find Your Flex. The talent is clearly there. Ready, willing and able to be hired and contribute to organisations. To bring the female perspective and skill set that all organisations need. It is known the roles advertised on Find Your Flex are open and ready to be flexible. I fear this isn’t the case across other sites and those organisations not showing up on this site. I still have conversations with coaching clients about approaching an organisation and asking for flexibility – like it’s a dirty word. Applying through Find Your Flex removes anxiety for those who need to have “the chat” during the recruitment process. 

In my opinion, shifting the balance begins with organisations showing the men of the world Flex is for all. Showing men to see working flexibly or part-time isn’t a negative reflection on their masculinity. Allowing men to be available in their families. Allowing them to grow stronger bonds as equal caregivers to their children. To make room for females to work equally – to not have working gender equality set back 50 years plus.

The job market is tough, but jobs are there and female talent most definitely is. The crisis could be an opportunity. An opportunity for organisations to invest and build more empathetic and flexible workplaces. To retain and attract those most impacted by this pandemic. Nurturing a work environment where women have equal opportunity to develop their careers. And men have equal opportunity to be present in their families.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

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Protecting Your Mental Health During Your Job Search

Does job searching affect our mental health?

Losing your job and being out of work for a significant period of time is classed as both a psychological and financial trauma (Carl Van Horn, PhD, Rutgers university). A large body of research shows unemployment is linked to feelings of anxiety, depression and loss of life-satisfaction. Even when financial strain isn’t a by-product of being made redundant, losing your job can still be detrimental to mental health. Job searching can take it’s toll.

Work provides us with routine, structure, identity, purpose and social interaction. When that is taken away, the effects can be palpable. It is critical that, whilst job searching, you are conscious of protecting your mental health. For those still in employment, support those that are not. 

The all consuming job search

It is far too easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate. If you are not at your laptop, searching and applying for jobs, feeling that you are not doing enough. Feeling as though all hours of the day must be spent on your search.

The reality is this is likely to have a detrimental effect. Your anxiety levels will increase; on days when results are limited, you will feel lower or like the never-ending search is hopeless. The fact is, being tied to your job search every waking moment, won’t make more opportunities appear. Whether you log on for three hours or eight, the amount of jobs you find to apply to are likely to be the same. The only difference will be, is how exhausted and less motivated you will feel.

So what is the answer? How can you take care of yourself, when all you can think about is securing your next job?

A vital element is maintaining structure. Creating a sense of routine provides the stability you lack from not being in work. Get up at a decent time and go about your day with a sense of routine. Try blocking the first two hours to focus on job search and applications. Take a break for chores, have lunch, do a final hour of networking via Linked In, or other platforms. Then spend some time on a hobby or social interaction with a friend or family member (socially distanced of course!). 

Exercise is incredibly helpful. Even if you are not a gym bunny. Doing something physical, ideally first thing in the morning really does get the blood flowing. It also helps you to focus. It will also release endorphins that help fight feelings of depression and anxiety.

What can you control?

When you are searching for employment you may feel uncomfortable with the unknown – when will you find your next job? What will it be? Where will it be? How much will you earn? It is therefore best to focus on what you can control – not what you can’t. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious about a particular thing, consider “is this within my control?” if yes, what can you do about it? Otherwise, let it go and consider what is in your control that you can positively impact instead. 

Seeing constant headlines about more companies going bust and more redundancies being made can impact your mood and feelings about your own job search. Do not let these things affect your mind-set – do not give up. If you find yourself slipping into thinking “there’s no point, I will never find a job”, take a day off the search. Try and think of new ways you can positively impact your search. It is not just about applying to advertised jobs. Spend time networking, look for new connections on LinkedIn. Arrange some virtual coffees, attend on online networking event. Switch it up and bring new life to your search. 

Let people know how you feel

Speak to your partner, friends or family for support. Job searching can be a very lonely place so allow others in. Finding a job search partner can be really motivating. Check in with each other, set goals and help one another stick to them. Celebrate successes and pick each other up on more difficult days. If you are feeling low on a regular basis with very little lift in your mood, don’t be afraid to seek professional support.

Celebrate success!

Not everything about your job search will be negative! Find ways to reflect, recognise and celebrate successes – no matter how small. Keep a visible note of what has gone well. This is really helpful for motivating you when you have more challenging days. Start each day reading through your successes. Even if it’s simply that you made a new, useful connection on LinkedIn – it’s a win! Share the steps forward you are making with those closest to you. Finding a new job can take time, so see each day as being one step closer. 

There are positives of being able to take a little time out too. Use the time you have, outside of the few hours of job search activity each day

  • To reconnect with people you often don’t get time to speak to
  • Return to, or take up, a new hobby,
  • Read the books you never normally find time for,
  • Spend an afternoon pampering yourself.

Job search is one part of what you need to do now. However, the rest of this time is for you to make the best of your time out. Take the break you deserve and invest in your mental health. 

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Read more about dealing with job loss here:

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Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Work Journeys

Dealing With Job Loss

Job Loss Is Never Easy

Losing your job is crap. There I said it. Even if deep down you wanted out of a job you weren’t particularly happy in, it’s still rubbish. And if you loved your job and it’s suddenly taken from you – then that’s horrendous. Whether you kind of saw it coming or not, losing your job is still a shocking and unpleasant experience. 

Even though you know there will have been logic from the company’s side as to why they have had to make cuts, it still massively knocks your confidence. Losing your job can leave you questioning, “Could I have done anything to have been saved?” The panic then sets in “What on earth am I going to do next? I need an income! There’s so much competition out there, it’s going to take ages to find something new!”. You may even feel resentful and question why certain others haven’t had the same terrible news.

One Piece Of Advice About Job Loss

If I can give you one piece of advice, it is give yourself a small window of time to be bitter and angry. Then try to move to processing your emotions in a more healthy way. Staying in angry, bitter, panic mode will see you paralysed. Rooted to the spot, not doing anything very productive to move forward.

That said there is definitely a need for you to mourn your job loss. Give yourself that space to feel sad, anxious and scared about your future. Trying to totally suppress such feelings will likely result in them rearing their head during your job search. Acknowledge and validate them and then use to your advantage. Use those feelings to focus you – they are the exact reason you need to take positive action.

Moving On From Job Loss

Once anger and sadness have been processed, it’s time to think to the future. You may not have planned your job loss. But, this could be a perfect opportunity to consider what you really want from your next career move. Times are tough and certain industries or roles are harder hit. However, others are having to adapt to the coronavirus world. This means that jobs or organisations that may not have felt as accessible previously, may now be.

If you have received a redundancy payment, the pressure may be off a little so take some time to reflect. What would you really like to do next?

  • Is this a time to re-train into that career you always wanted?
  • Maybe now is a good time to launch that business you have been thinking about over the last few years?
  • Is there a course you can do to re-direct your focus. Better position yourself by gaining the skills you need to secure a job in a new industry.

Consider what matters to you. All those things that you weren’t loving about your old job no longer exist. This is a great chance to carve out more of what you do want to be doing.

If a career change feels too much right now. Or you don’t have the luxury of a comfortable redundancy package, there is still no reason you can’t focus on the future. You may take a job that is close to your previous role for now. But, if a change is the end goal, you can still plan. One that is achievable to reach that career transition in the longer term. 

Getting A New Job Is Impossible!

The job market isn’t easy right now. Many people are finding they are applying for jobs they are qualified for and not even hearing back. Applying is a critical part of your job search but it is not the only thing you can be doing. Use your network. Connect with people. Have virtual coffees, speak to new people. This is not just to ask for jobs, but to find out more about their job, company or industry. The more people you speak with the more visible you become.

Applications are simply documents on a computer. Find out who the recruiting manager is for a job. Connect with them and suggest a virtual coffee to find out more about a role before you apply. Become a real, 3D person. Be remembered in a way a bunch of words on a page can’t do.

Get visible on social media where your ideal employer hangs out. Engage in Facebook groups, Linked In, write articles, involve yourself in discussions. It may feel alien at first, but it definitely won’t hinder your quest for your next job.

Caucasian woman with two young children. She is at her laptop and on the phone

Job Hunting SHOULD NOT Be A Full Time Job

Searching for a new job, can feel like a full time job in itself. It is easy to feel like you need to be glued to your laptop in order to be in with a chance. 

If you only take one thing from this blog, take this – DO NOT MAKE JOB HUNTING A FULL TIME JOB. You will send yourself spiralling into a very low place if it is the only thing you focus on. Set yourself a routine. Similar to a work pattern.

  • Get up.
  • Schedule time for applications, sorting your CV, networking etc
  • Then shut down and do something positive.

A few hours a day is enough and then move onto anything else that makes you feel good.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Have a coffee with a friend.
  • Do those things around the house that never normally get done!
  • Do something you would simply never get time to do if you were working.
  • Make some memories, you may not get this time again. 

Your mental health is your most important asset, especially at times like these, so take good care of it. Look out for my next blog on exactly that subject later this month.

Rebecca Amin helps parents who feel stuck in their careers and find a path back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her career coaching website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk, Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.