The truth is, writing a CV is an art form. It can take many, many, many attempts before you have a coherent document, that recruiters run through a system to pick out key words before passing it on to the hiring manager.
But once you have mastered your CV, wow! The sense of achievement feels fantastic! And this document (your CV) will get you through the rest of your career.
It is always difficult to know where to start, but first, you need to know the No-Go Zones.
There are certain things that should not show up on a CV . In this piece I call out 10 areas that should never appear or be used in your CV:
1: Private and personal data. That is: your date of birth/age, gender, religious belief, national insurance number or sexual orientation. By including such information, you are opening yourself up to discrimination. And… never include your martial status. In fact, it’s now illegal to discuss a candidate’s marital status under the Equality Act in the UK.
2: Inappropriate contact information, with this I mean your email. If your email is firstname.lastname@example.org (or something far more unsavoury, and you know what I mean), which is fine to use to set up your social media, BUT not so fine for applying for a job. Get onto google and create a new FREE email: email@example.com – ✔ done.
3: Social media handles. Other than LinkedIn, there really is no need to include the others.
4: Every-single-damn-grade from any and every exam you have ever taken. After a few years your school grades become irrelevant. Especially if you’ve moved onto further education or have professional qualifications. The best way to include grades is to cover your most recent education first, such as professional qualifications. Then, move backwards including fewer details as you go.
5: Colours and funky formats. Now, this is really depends on the job you apply for. In a creative world, sure – Why don’t you stand out but putting your CV in a different format. For example, if you are applying to Innocent Smoothies, turn your CV into a label on virtual 3D bottle! Not only will you stand out but you are also showing off your skills. But make sure you attach the PDF/Word document as well. However, when I was talking to a recruitment friend of mine, she said how she wished that all candidates followed the black and white standard format, which makes it is easy for her (as recruitment consultant) to read. So don’t get rejected because you made your CV bright green.
6: Made up job titles. Another area my recruitment consultant friend mentioned, was how frustrating it can be when candidates make up their job roles, then when interviewing they realise, the candidate has not done the job before, or even have the skills and it wastes a lot of time.
7: Fake skills. Don’t get caught out on this one.
8: Your photo: I know in some countries its standard practice to include an up-to-date photograph of yourself on your CV/resume. However, in the UK, it’s one of a few personal details that you’re better off removing. not only does it take up valuable space and doesn’t add anything to show how well you perform. It can also open the recruiter up to unconscious bias.
9: Poor language, spelling and grammar. This immediately shows laziness and can make you look incompetent. A way around this, is by creating your CV in MS Word: go to Review > Read Aloud. Utter game changer.
10: Hobbies and Interests. Unless you do something remarkable as a hobby then don’t bother including any. We all like to read, go the gym and cook. These hobbies are not going to make you standout.
Now you know what not to do, why don’t you come and checkout the CV Surgery to learn what to do.
You can opt in for either a group session or 1-2-1 coaching session, it really depends what you need! To find out more, email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Imposter Syndrome, something we are all too familiar with.
Have you ever felt inadequate? Suffered from self-doubt? Feared a question in meeting? Felt like you shouldn’t be in the room? Questioned why you even stepped on the career path you are on?
Then you’re not alone.
Many women (and men) experience the constant, nagging feeling they’re going to be unmasked as a fraud at any minute. Despite overwhelming evidence saying otherwise. It’s a phenomenon that blights most people – and it’s called Imposter Syndrome.
Welcome to Imposter Syndrome – the data
The term Imposter Syndrome came into my vocabulary over the last few years. Perhaps unsurprisingly since I started to progress up the career ladder. I started seeing articles in magazines and recommended reads on Linkedin. Then this year at the Best You Expo, people offering coaching for Imposter Syndrome and most recently a podcast/instagram page called The Imposters Club (find them on insta @theimpostersclub).
Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the “imposter syndrome” in 1978 when they were studying successful women who believed they were not worthy of their achievements. Their definition:
A feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” These people also “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds.”
The Independent study stated it found a third of millennials experience self-doubt at work, with 40% of women saying they felt intimidated by senior people, compared to 22% of men asked.
According to HR news ‘Imposter Syndrome has impacted a whopping 62% of people at work, according to a report by Access Commercial Finance. The survey of over 3000 adults in the UK shows over two-thirds of women (66%) have suffered from imposter syndrome compared to over half of men (56%) within the last 12 months’.
The Telegraph reported that research showed that 28% of working women feel like imposter syndrome has stopped them speaking in a meeting. It also found 21% have been prevented from suggesting a new or alternative idea at work, and 26% have failed to change career or role.
In a WITI article, it stated that research eventually showed a majority of people (70%) will experience imposter syndrome at some point in life, often during transitional times.
In 2011, a study published in Human Relations questioned 60,000 full-time workers on their attitudes toward male versus female bosses. 72% of those who expressed a bias towards gender, wanted a male manager. (That was back in 2011!).
In one of my most recent articles Please mind the (gender pay) gap I explored the well documented topic, of men being paid more than women. I refer to this, because I see a similar pattern. There does not seem to be an equal balance to the feelings towards Imposter Syndrome. With Women showing 10-20% higher results in feeling like a fraud then compared to men. Perhaps Human Relations has a point! Companies are very bias towards one gender, which could be impacting the behaviours and progression of women.
‘It is crucial to remember that women are not born feeling less-than. But if you are continually treated as though you are, you eventually internalise it. And this is not merely a synonym for low confidence – imposter syndrome is the logical outcome of a world that was never designed for women to be successful. It is time we stopped seeing the problem as being women’s refusal to believe in themselves and rather a world that actively refuses to believe in women’. *The Guardian Yomi Adegoke.
With the facts and figures of Imposter Syndrome explored, as a career coach I wanted to provide you with a some useful suggestions to help combat that feeling. That feeling of being a fraud.
6 Imposter Syndrome Hacks
Capture all your achievements and remember the positive results. A degree, a career change and/or running a 5K. Whether a photo around your house or on your desktop – make sure they are visible so you can see them.
Ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to either. I like to ask for 360 feedback. It is a process where your manager, your peers and direct reports and sometimes even customers can evaluate you. Ask 3 simple questions – What should I start doing? (This will capture what you need to do) What should I stop doing? (This will give you something to work on) and What should I continue to do? (This is your positive feedback that you can save in your brag list).
Remember it is more than OK to ask questions, put your hand up and say ‘I don’t know’ – you are not expected to know everything.
Find ways to manage the Imposter Monster when it takes centre stage in your head. When you start hearing ‘You can’t’ find a way to turn that into a ‘CAN’.
Find allies both in work and in your friendship circles. When you start using self-doubting language ask your allies to use a code word like ‘pineapple’ 🍍 to bring you back in the room and capture the moment you started to doubt yourself? Perhaps at this point you may want to keep a diary so you can start to build any patterns and recognise any triggers.
Listen to podcasts, speak to friends, colleagues and family members about Imposter Syndrome. You will be surprised in how many people are willing to share their stories and you will truly realise you are not alone.
Do you have story of Imposter Syndrome? Have you been in combat with the fear of being found out? Or maybe you have suggestion on improving self doubt. Comment below your thoughts.
Would you like to explore more ways of beating the Imposter Syndrome dragon?
Working with me, as your career coach, we can build successful resilience methods to slay that dragon! I get it, I have encountered so many challenges within my career from lack of support or access to coaching, to bad company cultures with glass ceilings and, of course, the gender pay gap. All leading, to me, once experiencing and suffering imposter syndrome with self-doubt… Yet have found and grasped opportunities to slay, shine and progress.
Book your free 30 minute Discovery Call with me to find out more:
Getting along with your colleagues and boss can be great, especially when it make the day go a little quicker and it can even increase performance.
You may feel so close to your boss that you hang out after work or invite them to your wedding. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your friend is still your superior, and there’s a line you shouldn’t cross.
Aside from the obvious — like profanity and insults — Here are 10 words, behaviours and phrases you should never utter to your boss and colleagues even if you’re friends!
10 things to not say at work:
‘I heard Dave got a promotion’ – Not that necessarily things like salaries, pay grades and promotions are confidential. But bitching to your boss about this is just plain unprofessional and borderline gossiping. So what if Dave got a pay-rise, it is none of your business. Bitch about that with a friend that isn’t in the same company as you!
Roll your eyes. Ok, so I am guilty of this, especially my facial expressions. It is something I have learnt to hold back and in, it’s not cool! It makes you look like you have bad attitude – so STOP!
‘I’m so bored/I have no work to do/I am twiddling my thumbs’ – Are you a fool? Don’t ever tell your boss you are bored and have no work to do! Firstly either find something to do like email admin or start on that improvement piece you have been harping on about… Worst case, go and wash up the cups! However, if you really can’t find something to do – ask your boss: “I have some capacity to take on more, is there anything I can support you with”
‘I have an interview…’ – Good for you, you are unhappy and you are planning your escape. But keep it under-wraps, you don’t want to be starting a rumour mill you are leaving. Only tell your boss if you are offered the job, in the meantime, just turn up, do your work and arrange your interview around your current commitments.
‘Oh My Gawd… did you hear about….’ – No one likes an office gossip. As soon as you a labelled as the big mouth, secret spiller you will not be trusted with anything confidential or even let into the trusted groups of managers. This can halt your progression.
‘I’ll get that done immediately’ – Never over promise to then under deliver. Setting to high of expectations can lead to disappointment on both parties.
Referring to someone’s image. You may have a great relationship with the person you are ripping into and that’s great. Just take into account your surroundings. If someone heard, would they be hurt by the language you are using?
Being too needy. There is nothing worse than a needy employee, stakeholder and/or vendor. Constantly ringing, dropping emails in people diaries and needing your hand held every 5 minutes is not cool. Take a break, read the signs. Hint: note down all the times you need to speak to your boss, can it wait? Try and save some for your 121’s.
Don’t let your inner teenager come out. Similar to 2. Rolling your eyes. Keeping your cool is key. It can sometimes be hard to not yell out a swear words when your colleagues or boss are driving you into despair.
Lie. If you haven’t done something be upfront. I have seen some real shockers in my time, even someone changing time stamps on emails! People that lie will get found out. Don’t risk it!
It was reported that 73% of British workers took time out of work because of stress in the work place… and 19% quit on the spot!
From Lack of support and excessive workload. To poor company culture and incompetent colleagues. There are many factors that lead to stress. I explore how work related stress impacts your and how we can implement some remedies to alleviate the excessive pressures.
HSE’s formal definition of work-related stress is: “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”
Although stress is a state more than an illness, however, it is worth noting that if stress becomes too excessive and prolonged – mental and physical illness may develop.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as mistakes and errors.
Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business. From looking into this topic further as well as discussing this at my networking group, it was found that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.
Pressures at work compared to stress caused because of work has a clear difference: Pressure can be positive, motivating factor in someone’s career, and is often essential. It can help us achieve our goals as well as perform better.
Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive.
Stress affects people in different ways and what one person finds stressful can be normal to another. With each new situation a person will decide what the challenge is and whether they have the resources to cope. If they decide they don’t have the resources, they will begin to feel stressed. How they appraise the situation will depend on various factors, including:
Background and culture
Skills and experience
Ethnicity, gender, age or disability
Just like how people are affected by stress, the ways of managing can be different for each individual. It is all well and good to talk about a work life balance, however what people really need are tools and techniques to help them.
How to alleviate work related stress can be managed by:
Talking to your manager, colleague or HR. There is no shame in saying that the current pressures that are on you are causes you to feel stressed. It is always best to take some examples with you that include situation when you have felt stressed or document you current work load to show your manager. By talking, you are highlighting the problem. You never know, you might be able to recruit a junior to support you.
Get a priority list together. Have you ever used a Kanban board? Such a great way to visually see what you need to do and what you have achieved. (also GREAT for reporting) You can use Trello which is a free online tool.
Be part of a culture change. Do you have an idea to help improve team performance? an Idea on how to feel calmer at work? Maybe introduce a well-being Wednesday? Be the change you want to see.
Change your job or career direction. This one will take more time and planning. However, if you really are struggling this might be the option.
Have a break. Stop, put down your work phone and be present with your family and friends.
Exercise! Make time to go for a walk/run. Go to that gym class. Getting out helps clear the mind, looking after yourself will help with all aspects of your life and your mental health.
Do you have a story of stressed caused by work? Or do you have any suggestions of remedies? Comment below to share.
I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Margaret Dawson at the Women in Business Expo (2019). Her set was about women empowering women which I found bloody inspirational. And wanted to share some key points from what she had to say.
Women empowering women, Dawsons thoughts
Dawson started off with asking the audience if we knew our purpose? Knowing who you are and your purpose is a question that most people probably can’t answer and by the lack of hands shooting up in the air, answered my theory. I learnt that from around the age of 8 is when we start processing other people’s input, and their input can shape who we think we are.
Even at the age of 31, I still have ‘naysayers’ add comments to my actions such as: ‘don’t change your job, you will look unreliable’, ‘Can you actually do that?’ (THAT being anything from starting a business, running a events, writing a blog) and ‘you will never make the money you want, it isn’t realistic.’ From a girl to woman, input like this has always been there.
How are those comments helpful? How is that empowering me? What are you getting out of this and do have something constructive to add at that end of negative sentence?
Society Define who we are allowed to be.
Listening to this input, too much will only result in hiding who we are. This is evident in the business world, especially when it comes to a job application. It is common knowledge that Women will not apply for a job unless she 100% qualified, experienced and more. Where men, will apply for a job even if he only has 60% of job spec skills.
Dawson referred to our being as a pure light, which is humble and beautiful. Our light can be dulled when we have negativity and poor input when we are trying to shape our paths.
[A note to add to the readers: Before we input into someone else’s being, perhaps we should make sure the words we are saying are of some use and empowering not unhelpful and demoralising]
Dawson talked around a bullying in the workplace how it can come from women towards other women. She referred to a point where women start to progress up the ladder then there is almost like a high-heel pointing down keeping other women a safe distance from their ivory towers.
It is not always in business that you have this odd competitive nature of not supporting women. I have experienced women in my life who either friends or people I have met that have lacked empathy, encouragement and actually been a bully.
To conclude, Dawson gave 8 points on how we can women can empower women:
Intentional support other women
Hire more women in your organsiation
Mentor, coach, train – no matter the age
Encourage your daughters (and sons) to take that risk
Level the playing field, don’t put up blockers.
Be nice to that different girl
Be aware of the input you give
Celebrate everyones unique light and self.
To round this up 10, I would like to add 2 more:
Don’t be afraid to challenge. Whether the status quo or someone on their behaviour.
Encourage others to follow their dreams, support, give constructive advice and if you can help in any way – whether sharing their business page or writing an article for their own blog small acts of kindness can go a long way…
… And women who do not empower other women, rarely make it!