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Clare Riding

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Physician, heal thyself!


Clare Riding discusses how training professionals can help themselves up the career ladder.

Eight in 10 Britons are overworked, with almost a third 'burnt out' or 'very overworked' in pursuit of a pay rise or promotion, according to a new survey [1] from The Open University. Employees believe that working longer hours is one of the best ways to earn a promotion or pay rise despite being considered important by just one in ten employers. Employers are in fact much more likely to reward people who, amongst other things, gain work-related qualifications through additional education.

With just 15% entirely happy with their career, Britons need to make 2015 the year of their career by exploring more effective methods of career progression. While training professionals spend their lives helping others achieve success in their careers, it's all too easy to overlook their own career.

To help get your career to where you want it to be, here are some top tips:

Take time to reflect on yourself

Take some time to assess yourself, review your life and work experience and the skills and qualities that have grown out of them. This kind of self-knowledge is the best basis for making decisions about your career. Remember you may have potential that is yet to be developed, so make sure you keep an open mind when considering what the future holds.

Stay positive

Easier said than done sometimes, you should know that earning your dream job will be a challenge, but one that is worth it in the end. Don’t get downhearted and make sure you frequently review what you are doing. For instance, if you are getting lots of rejections from job applications, then look at what you can change. Are your spending enough time tailoring your cover letter and adapting your CV for each job?

Don’t forget about social media

Many employers now check your social media profiles as a way of working out what kind of employee you are. This means that you should be projecting a professional image, at least on the part of your profile visible to the public. Check your privacy settings to make sure no one else can view your profile other than your friends. As odd as it sounds, a social media profile could be the difference that loses (or gains) that new job, or promotion.

Be open to flexible working

It may take time and effort to get the exact role you want, but if you are flexible, you are more likely to get a foot in the door. For instance applying for a part-time role and hoping for more hours. Or, if you want to work in a particular industry or for a particular organisation, it may be worth trying to get a more junior role than the one you ultimately want. This could help you build up a network of contacts as well as prove your worth.

Look into additional education

Recognise what additional skills, knowledge or qualifications you need to take your career to the next level and investigate what options are available to help you obtain them. Additionally, part-time qualifications can fit around a full-time job – in fact over 70% of our students balance study with a career. It demonstrates to employers that you’re someone who is up for a challenge and committed to successfully seeing it through, with excellent time management and prioritising skills. Just the kind of person, in fact, that employers are looking for.

An employer's perspective

“You just can’t beat real enthusiasm, but on its own this isn’t always enough. If you can add the right expertise and skills, you’ll have a great combination to put you on a successful career path. That’s why we always sit up and take notice of people who are committed to gaining work-related qualifications through additional education. Not only does this show their enthusiasm, but what they learn is often of immediate value in the office.” - Ashley Hever, Talent Acquisition Manager UK & Ireland, At Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Getting yourself ahead in 2015

There are many ways to do this, but an effective way is to gain a qualification from university. Nearly two thirds (65%) of Open University students achieve their goal of progressing in their careers after six months. You can study at home, at work or on the move, all you need to do is make take for your own development.

[1] Research of 1,000 UK adults and 1,000 employers commission by The Open University – November 2014

Clare Riding is head of the careers advisory Service at The Open UniversityThe Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses


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