Careers Blog

How to Bounce Back After Making an Uncharacteristic and Costly Mistake at Work.

How to Bounce Back After Making an Uncharacteristic and Costly Mistake at Work.Question: I am a marketing manager of a pharmaceutical company and really enjoy my job. Normally I receive nothing but praise from the owners of the company and have always felt confident in my role. But a few weeks ago, I made a major mistake that cost our company an important client. My boss was clearly disappointed and he had to explain the situation to the owners. I feel that since it has happened, I have been sidelined and my confidence has been seriously knocked. How can I express my regret, earn respect and build my confidence again? Answer: It is almost inevitable that occasionally in our working lives mistakes occur. We have to own up to them, fix them if possible and then move on. Unfortunately, your mistake seems to be continuing to impact on how you feel about the organisation, your work and your relationship with your team. You have to take some action to ensure that it doesn’t continue to impact on your work. Here are some steps that might help to move forward. 1 Forgive yourself Although this sounds like a cliche, thinking through your error, accepting your mistake, and moving on personally will impact on how you can move on. It appears that your error in judgement has impacted your confidence negatively and this will affect your work. However, you have said that your record previously was exceptional, you were well received by your team and often acknowledged for this success. You need to try to focus on these positive reflections of yourself, rather than negatives. Take the time to consciously forgive yourself for the mistake. 2 Accept responsibility Be very clear with your manager that you realise the impact of your error and accept responsibility. Request a meeting specifically to discuss the issue. Approach this professionally and keep the tone serious with a focus on the future, rather than apologetic without clear direction. Prepare thoroughly by investigating the root cause of the issue and take care to outline key learnings before you go into the meeting. It is important that you strike a balance that acknowledges your error and the impact this has had on the business but also analyses potential improvements to the process. 3 Prevent a repeat The most important element of accepting responsibility, and therefore preventing an ongoing impact of your error, is developing a mechanism to prevent re-occurrences. In investigating and thoroughly understanding the incident, you should also look for the points of weakness in your process. Could checks and balances be put in place to alert you to danger prior to a major mistake being made? Could a backup plan be developed to repair any damage prior to the customer removing their business? Is there any remedy for the situation with the customer? Could there be a way to win the business back – or at least mend bridges? Implementing improvements in how you do your work will prove to management and your colleagues that you are still capable in your role. But, just as importantly, it will also help to rebuild your own confidence. 4 Challenge yourself Continue to build your confidence by setting slightly stretching targets or participating in new projects. The start of a new year is a good time to set goals or targets for the year – or for the first half or quarter of the year. Set your usual goals but then set a stretch goal, which is an additional goal in case you exceed your initial goal. This will show initiative. However, because of your recent experience, try to minimise the risk level of your tasks or projects during this period. This is because your anxiety levels are likely heightened and it could result in you making further mistakes, which would only prove to damage your confidence further. Achieving these goals, or completing a new project, will help you to feel competent in your role again, as well as proving your worth to your colleagues. Setting achievable ongoing targets will also reinforce a more positive impression of your own ability as a whole.           Caroline Ward HR Services Manager Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group This article was first published in the business section of The Sunday Independent, on January 14th, and the original version can be read...

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10 Tips for Landing Your Dream Job in 2018

It’s January and most people’s thoughts are on the things they want to change in their lives in the New Year. One of the biggest alterations a person can make is taking a new direction in their career so, every year, “finding the dream job” is usually high up on many people’s New Year’s resolutions list. However, by the end of January, many of the changes that were so urgent and important at the end of December, have gone by the wayside as we slip back into the comfort of our old workplace and familiar routine. Moving jobs or changing careers can be a scary prospect and sometimes people think that it is easier for them to stay where they are — even if they are unhappy — rather than make a fresh start. But there is no reason why landing your dream job cannot become a reality for you in 2018. What you need is a plan; a roadmap that will give you the structure you need to stay disciplined in pursuit of your goals. If your New Year’s resolution is to progress your career, you can’t afford to be casual in the way you pursue it. Most people think that all they have to do is update their CV, send it out to a few agencies, and sit back and wait for the job offers to come in. They are wrong. If you are serious about developing your career in 2018, here are 10 things you can do to make it a reality:   Set your goal. You can’t progress your career if you don’t know what you want to do....

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Dealing With The Difficult Task of Making a Close Friend Redundant

Question: Last year, a promotion came up at the IT firm where I work. A colleague and close friend pushed me to put myself forward. When I got the job she was the first to celebrate with me. Now, due to budget restraints, the company is downsizing and I have been tasked with letting a number of staff go. I was gutted to see my friend’s name on the list and have no idea how to break the news to her. Can you advise me on how I can approach this situation without losing her friendship? Answer: This is no doubt a very challenging time for you both personally and professionally. Supervising a friend can have its benefits if they are a loyal follower of yours and ensure that at no time they let the side down. But it can have its challenges when tough discussions must take place such as terminations. You have to consider how to have this uncomfortable discussion with the hope of minimal damage to the personal relationship. Planning the conversation and the following pointers will help you to approach it in a more professional light. Be prepared for an emotional response. How you handle this will determine the future status of your friendship. 1. Make the conversation brief: Be brief when having the ‘manager’ conversation and offer yourself for the ‘friend’ conversation after work. Keep the actual conversation brief and isolate your friendship until this is delivered – this is important for both your own state of mind and for the way your friend perceives the action. 2. Don’t procrastinate: Be direct about the...

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How can I ensure my boss gives me a fair reference when she is unhappy I am leaving?

Question: I’ve been working in the marketing and sales department of an engineering firm for the last three years. I meet all my quarterly targets; I am a good team worker and have exceeded the expectations required of me. My pay is substantially below the market average, so recently I asked for a pay raise and a promotion. I was turned down and my manager also refused to review my salary further down the line. Since then I have started to look for a new job and have been open about my search with my boss who was not happy. I had an interview with a firm which went great. However, I am worried my boss will give me a bad and unfair reference. How can I prevent this? Answer: There appears to be a ceiling in your organisation preventing you from advancing further and from receiving a salary increase. This may or may not be down to your manager’s influence. Strategic plans, budget or established processes may also have an impact. According to your outline above, your approach to date has been quite positive and open. Although your situation at your organisation is becoming increasingly difficult, it is in your best interest for your future career to continue this approach and leave the organisation on a positive note, or without burning any bridges. However, making the transition from one organisation to another can be difficult; balancing the move away from your employer with your move to a new role requires a sensitive and professional approach. Hopefully any concerns regarding your manager providing a negative reference are unfounded but...

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I was horrified to learn I am paid less than male colleagues – how do I reduce the gap?

Question: With all the talk about the gender pay gap in the news recently, I started to wonder if my pay was on a par with my male colleagues so I did a bit of asking around. I was horrified to find out that not only was my pay substantially less than my male counterparts, it was also fairly significantly less than one more junior male member of my team – a person who I manage. I have found it hard to bite my tongue, but I have no idea how to tackle the issue as we do not have pay scales in work and I only found out the differences as I started asking. How should I broach this with my boss? Answer: I can imagine this was a great shock and I would hope that, in this day and age, you are in a minority as many companies have started to address gender pay differences and are being proactive in ensuring that pay scales are in place. There should be no discrepancies between male and female workers in the same role and I would suggest all companies review pay to ensure there are no obvious gaps. The safest way is to tie in pay scales directly to market value for the role at hand, which leaves a narrow range for negotiation and addresses unfair pay gaps. Organisations should conduct annual pay-equity analysis to ensure pay is in line with relevant variables such as market value, employee experience, annual performance reviews, etc. Some companies are introducing total ‘pay transparency’, which allows everyone to be aware of what their...

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I’m worried about how I’m going to make my mark as a young first-time Team Leader

Question: I’m in my early 30s and nearly 10 years into a successful IT career. I’ve recently been given the responsibility of managing a team of junior staff. If all goes well, I’ll be offered an official management role. However, this is my first time taking any kind of team leader responsibility and I’m worried about taking on such a big responsibility. I’m determined to be a good mentor and a strong team leader but I don’t know where to start. How can I approach this new role and start off on a strong note? Answer: First of all, congratulations. It is great to hear that you understand the gravity of the change that you will be undertaking in your role. High-potential individuals, having displayed exceptional skill in their role, are often promoted to the very different position of team leader or manager. While seen as a natural “next step”, the skills required in managing people are often very different to the qualities and actions required in the day-to-day role. For example, delegation, empathy, planning, negotiation may all be demanded daily of a team leader. In order to approach the role with confidence, take some time to think about how you are going to approach this new opportunity. Here are some items that you should consider. 1. Examine the key characteristics or skills of a leader or manager you respect or admire Take some time to contemplate the qualities and actions of a current or former leader, which you have seen as being particularly effective. Focus on the areas that you believe makes them successful, rather than just what makes them...

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It feels like the time to spread my wings, but should I heed fears about the role on offer?

Question: I am a senior manager in the medtech industry and, after 20 years with my current company, I feel it is time to seek new challenges. I’ve been for several interviews and I’ve been offered the perfect role with another firm. But I am concerned, as I heard the last person in the role damaged staff morale and several team members left as a result. Should I accept the position despite this? How can I go into this new role and invoke a positive working environment for everyone? Answer: Making a change in your work life is a difficult and brave decision to take at any point in your career development. You should balance both your feelings for your current role, as well as the potential development beyond. While you might have heard rumours about your potential new role and the state of morale, there are other things that you need to consider before you even tackle that issue. Be sure about the move for your own reasons first and then you can look forward to how you might address any internal issues. Here are a few things you should consider before deciding if this is the role for you. 1 The organisation Have you looked at the overall structure and culture of the company? The organisation’s position and reputation in the market should be taken into consideration. How does this match with your expectations for your career? Are their ethics, the product or service they provide as well as their ideology in keeping with your outlook? 2. Role content How would you prefer to spend your time...

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Jobseekers Guide – Managing Your Job Campaign

Jobseekers Guide – Managing Your Job Campaign What is a job search campaign? A job search campaign is a structured and consistently employed plan to promote a positive self image and enhance your career opportunities. Key Steps in a Job Search Campaign: • Apply yourself fully to your job search campaign; your job now is to get a new job • Research the market, evaluate possible options and opportunities. • Generate a list of companies to target in your region and research how to target these companies. • Set daily, weekly and monthly targets. • Organise your job search and establish an efficient record keeping system. Succeeding in Today’s Job Market Over half of vacancies are filled without being advertised, this is what is known as the Hidden Job Market. There are many different routes to market, both advertised and hidden: Routes to market 1. Recruitment Agencies Select agencies that best suit your needs. It is important to build a relationship with the recruiter. The onus lies with you to keep in contact with the agency and to follow up regularly. Try and arrange a meeting with the agency and treat it as an interview. Continue to review websites for suitable positions, and if you locate a position that is of interest to you discuss this role with your recruiter and seek their advice. 2. Start Networking Networking events include; Open Coffee Mornings, Chamber of Commerce Meetings, College Seminars, public networking events at local sports / communities / parishes, etc. It is vital to use these opportunities and to be proactive while attending. Attending networking events gives you the opportunity to...

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Will passing up a promotion when my children were younger ruin my chances this time?

Question: I am trying to move up in my career but am worried past decisions may come back to haunt me. Five years ago, when my two children were quite young, I passed up a promotion as it would have meant working longer hours. The same position has opened up again recently and I now feel ready to take on this role. I am worried that because I refused in the past, I will be passed up by my employer this time. How do I approach going for this promotion? Answer: Try not to worry as it is unlikely your previous refusal of the role will impact your career path at this stage. There is no doubt that your choice to prioritise your home life in the past should not be held against you in this process. Under the Employment Equality Acts, your organisation must not discriminate against you on the grounds of family status. This means that, all things being equal between your application and that of another candidate, legally your organisation cannot choose another candidate above you on the basis that you have a family. However, be careful not to let your concern impact your application negatively as this will result in you approaching the process in a more negative light. It can often happen that more experienced candidates are so concerned with a potential difficulty – such as the possibility of being discriminated against because of their age – that they fail to communicate their competency for, and their genuine interest in, the role to the best of their ability. Focus instead on preparing your application...

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Jobseekers Guide – Interview Tips

Introduction “You only get one chance to make a first impression” First impressions do count, and research has shown that the average person can make up their minds about somebody within the first 30 seconds! A job interview is no different. Preparation, presentation and attitude are the key ingredients to be successful. What to Expect? From the employer’s perspective, the purpose of the interview is to evaluate you and your capabilities, to assess your ability to contribute to the organisation and to see how well you might fit into the organisation. The Stages of an Interview There are 4 stages in a typical job interview: • Breaking the ice – introductions and ‘chitchat’ designed to help you relax and feel comfortable. • Exchanging information – questions that focus on the organisation, the job and your interest in both. • Expanding the focus – specific questions about you and how well you will be able to do the job. • Wrapping up – time for clarifying, asking questions and final comments. Interview Preparation Preparing yourself properly for an interview will help you relax and give you the confidence to answer tough questions. Thorough preparation will dramatically improve your chances of getting the job. Research the Company & the Role Firstly make sure you read through the job description carefully. If you are dealing with a recruitment consultant they should also be able to tell you about the company you are going to see, and about the person who is interviewing you. You should also conduct your own background research on the firm and the individuals you are meeting. You will...

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