Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Work confidence: talk that talk and walk that walk!

I like job interviews. I'm sure most people think I'm pretty weird for saying that, but I've done so many of them that I think my view and attitude toward them has changed from terror and insecurity to...well... understanding that an interview is actually more of a conversation - and it's just as important for the interviewee to engage with the interviewers, ask questions and get to know their ethos as it is for them to get to know the interviewee.

Job applications though...I hate them with a fiery passion. They take so long to write for one thing! For another they make you spend hours thinking about yourself and bigging yourself up, and that can be exhausting and difficult for a lot of people, me included. So I do agree with the idea that knowing your strengths and capitalising on them is a great way to start tackling job applications!

For me, I know that working with people is an extremely important part of my working life. I like to be a part of a team, I like to be able to share and discuss ideas, and I get de-motivated and tired if I work in isolation and silence for any long period of time. I know that I need to work in a role that adds value to the experience of others, so I know that when I'm working with students I can make a real difference to their studies and their experience of university. I find this very motivating and it also helps me isolate the areas of my job I most enjoy, which can really help me get through the other elements I enjoy less (administration for example). I know that I'm good at organisation and management which explains how I manage to pack so much into my weekends!

I dislike sleep deprivation, confrontation and negotiation  This means I have to make sure I work a job with manageable hours, don't exhaust myself in my free time, work in an environment in which I am comfortable and get on with most of the people around me, and remember to ask for help in situations where I feel I need a little reassurance, or a second voice on my side. I also dislike starting anything from scratch if I don't have to, so I always use an old job application, or the notes from my previous job interview to help me prepare and give me a basis to work from. This is my top tip really when it comes to interview preparation - reflect on your last job interview and how you think it went - what did they ask you and what were your answers? How would you answer them now? I always make sure I have the answer to why I want the job, what I think I can bring to the role and where I would like to being 5 years time, because I know they're going to ask me those things. Plus, if you've taken the time to think through those answers, you'll be able to relate those practically to the job opportunity you have in front of you, making your answers to the interview panel more thoughtful and engaging and making the whole experience more useful for you in deciding whether this job actually will take you where you want to be.

This 'thing' is intended as an opportunity to refresh my existing 'CV database', add-in any activities or interests I've not previously included or thought to use in a job-seeking context, and generally keep my bank of 'things I've done and can use again' up-to-date, so when I come to writing my next job application I'm not scratching around in my memory trying to dig up examples that demonstrate my ability. I did this in July when I applied for (and got) my new job, and interestingly, even though I know I've achieved a lot that is CV worthy, I am struggling to write them down here to share with the CPD23 community because it feels like boasting. Isn't that odd? Clearly being enthusiastic about my achievements is difficult to do at all times, not just when I'm staring at a job application asking myself if it's all really worth it. What this tells me is that, even if you're not comfortable talking about yourself in everyday life and struggle to believe in your achievements, putting it all together for a job interview is not the same thing - and you can learn to turn on that confidence, look at a job description and tell yourself you can do it, and then walk into the interview just as yourself, and tell the truth: you can do this job. It might be a version of yourself most people will never see, but it's the version of yourself that will make the panel sit up and take notice. Trust me.

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