New Year has come and gone so what are you going to do different this year. A very famous football coach once said; “If you want to change some things in your life, you need to change some things in your life”. Same old, same old is also a saying that applies to a lot of people. It is now an excellent time to look at how your career is going.

Are you in the right job for what you are trying to achieve?
Are there the right opportunities for advancement, where you are?
Are you looking to change or start in a new role?
Where and how are you looking for a new job?

The first step is always to make a plan. Not in your head but write it down. Make it specific and include things like job title, salary and associated benefits.

A good plan is one that is firstly roughed out. What I mean by that is to use your tablet or better still a sheet of paper and write down whatever comes to mind. This gives you the ideas, but not the structure.

Structure is established in several ways. The most common are timing, setting objectives and report writing format.

If you are to use timing, you can start from now and work out how much time is needed to achieve each goal. An alternative is Project Management where you start at the end and work your way back to the present. Remember to always allow enough time for each task knowing there will be unexpected things that will occur. Alternatively, do not allow so much time that the outcome is so far off, it loses its significance.

Setting objectives is based on your rough list of ideas. First examine them and give more weight to the ones that are practical to achieve in the short term. For example; updating your resume. Now you can rearrange your list into priority order. Finally, as discussed above add a time line with each objective.

Report writing format is exactly what it describes. Looking at your rough list go through it again and number each item by importance. Some people also use the must be doneshould be done and if time permits, can be done method.

Now ask yourself am I qualified for such a role, not just on paper but with the experience or attitude required. Do not sell yourself short. A tertiary qualification is nothing to be sneezed about, experience working at Hungry Jacks or driving Uber is relevant. Think of what you have learned in terms of customer service, use of specific software, communications skills such as asking questions, decision making which shows that you are proactive.

I once was training prisoners at Barwon Prison. There was a young chap in his early twenties, who was serving 3 years for his part in a bank robbery. John (not his real name) had grown up on the streets from 13 years old, did not complete any secondary schooling, and aside from some part time work in labouring; he had never held a proper job.

He was asked to put together a resume. After some time, I noticed he had not put pen to paper, and asked him why? His answer was I have no skills or training or any real experience, so I have nothing to write. This is a fundamental issue in today`s society, where teenagers and young adults fall through the cracks. There only alternative in their minds is to turn to crime.

What John did not realise was that he had developed a range of skills that were valuable.

I asked about the robbery. Was it successful? His answer was yes, until one of his co- offenders got caught and that led the police to him. So, we began to write down on a piece of paper some of his skills.

How did the idea come about?

I noticed this particular outlet had not been upgraded to some of the new security measures and thought it would be straight forward.

Skill; Ideas Generation

What happened next? I watched the place over several days, made note as to when it was busy, the routines of the staff, the security cameras etc.

Skill; Research observational, physical and statistical

What was your next step? I organised the others for the job, got the equipment we needed and planned the timing.

Skills; Recruitment and human resources, resource purchasing, resource management, logistics and planning.

On the day of the robbery, what did you do? I organised all the people, went through the plan several times, talked about the hazards, got everyone fired up and assessed the likely hood of getting caught.

Skills; People management and motivation, occupational health and safety, and finally risk management.

At the end of this process he had a two-page resume which focussed on real skills. What I had hoped to show him was that he was worthwhile, and could be successful outside of prison. As it turns out several years later, John now runs a successful consultancy, specialising in crime prevention.

You have so many more skills than you give yourself credit for.

The New Year is already underway. What are you going to do different this year? Answer create a personal development plan.

Now add the crucial part, the timing. When do you want this to happen? A plan without a date is a wish list not a plan at all.

Many people need to upgrade their skills because there is always new software to learn, or new responsibilities to prepare for. If this applies to you think about the type of training you may need. Qualifications are very important; however, many employers are looking for demonstrated experience. I do not agree that someone with 10 years’ experience at data entry is better than someone who has 6 months experience doing the same job. In certain roles experience means you have learned by your mistakes or have done additional training to make you more efficient, or have spoken to more people. If you can demonstrate to an employer that your experience is relevant, and more importantly that you have additional skills to add to the talent pool of the organisation, than you should have confidence in applying for the role you seek.

Contact BLC Training and Internship for help on your next step.

By Michael O`Keeffe