Monday, 28 September 2009

Career Advice Hits the Road in the UK

Did you know that The Career Advice Service - or CAS for short - are a public service here in the UK and they'll give you free advice and guidance on your career?

The CAS have recently taken their message out on the road too. Telling their story and listening to people like you and me talk work and careers.

To find out more, I asked CAS Careers Coach, Paresh Damani, a few questions about life, the Universe and everything else career related.

Paresh, it's over to you...

What's the aim of the CAS?

The Careers Advice Service provides free and impartial information, advice and guidance on issues related to work, training and education. We can help you whether you’re trying to decide what job is right for you or you want to know how to get the job you want. We also let you know what financial support is out there to help you develop your skills. The Careers Advice Service is available both over the telephone and online.

What has it been like to take your service 'on the road'?

It has been a great experience to tell people face to face what we are about. The Careers Advice Service did some research and discovered that almost three quarters of the nation are planning on changing their careers, however one in four suspects they never will as they are unsure about what they really want. Given these results, we thought it would be great to mobilise the Careers Advice Service and bring it directly to the people. Whilst we were on the roadshow, the feedback we’ve been getting from people has been really great. People don’t realise that there is a free and impartial careers advice service for adults. There was a lot of interest and many people were queuing up to speak to careers advisers.

The CAS on the road in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

What are people saying about their careers?

At the moment a lot of people are worried about job security. Many fear redundancy and are considering retraining in case the unthinkable happens to them. Having said that, a lot of people are just happy having a job at the moment. That’s understandable but people shouldn’t rule out refreshing their skills or re-training as there are some exciting opportunities out there.

You mention redundancy as a common worry. What general advice would you offer to anyone facing redundancy?

Get your finances in order, make sure you’ve received a correct redundancy payout and go to the jobcentre to sign on. Also speak to a careers adviser about your next steps if you are not sure and make sure you have an up-to-date CV; we have a CV checking service and can help people review theirs if it's a bit out of date.

How are you seeing the world of careers changing?

I think people would like more of a work life balance now. With the credit crunch and high flying banking and financial services jobs taking a hit, people are realising there is more to life than making money. I’ve found that there is still strong interest in media and broadcasting roles even though competition is stronger than ever but with fewer permanent jobs available.

How did you become an advisor?

I have a background in education, having worked as a school bursar, university finance officer and a college administrator. I graduated with a politics degree but had no intention of going directly into politics. But when I saw the position of learning advisor advertised in my local paper I thought it could be the perfect job for me - and here I am 4 years later. I love the fact that the role involves helping people find their niche in training and education, while helping them to develop their skills.

What's the best piece of careers advice you were given?

To be honest I don’t think I had any decent Careers Advice and I think this is part of the problem. I can’t even remember anyone saying you should do this or you should be that – I wish they had. That’s where the Careers Advice Service comes in. I suppose the best piece of advice I was given was to be curious and explore, and that way you may find something that suits you and you will enjoy doing.

Where can we find out more about CAS in general?

You can visit or call the Careers Advice Service on 0800 100 900 to get advice on expanding and updating their skills. The service is free from a landline and is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Sunday. We are also now on Twitter - you can follow us at for the latest news and information from the Careers Advice Service.

Paresh, on behalf of work/life fusion and its readers, I'd like to say a big Thank You for telling us more.

As always, you can join the conversation or ask questions by commenting below!

Best Regards for now,


Monday, 21 September 2009

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

On the subject of book reviews, I have one simple criteria: if it relates to your career, it's relevant here.

The above statement was the only way I could think to start this post because otherwise - as you read on - you might wonder what on earth was happening.

Allow me to explain a little further...

A friend mentioned a career book to me recently but his recommendation was so unusual, I thought he was playing an elaborate joke.

"It's a great book," he said. "Full of advice about making career choices and it doesn't pull any punches either!"

This sounded like a book I had to read.

"Who's it by?" I asked excitedly.

"Dr. Seuss," he said.

When I checked and double checked that he was being serious, I discovered that the book was called 'Oh, The Places You'll Go!' and ordered myself a copy.

Title: Oh, The Places You'll Go! - Author: Dr. Seuss - ISBN: 978-0-00-715852-2 (2003, UK soft cover re-print)

You might still think I'm joking (or that I fell for my friend's joke despite trying to avoid it) but I was amazed at what I read.

It was indeed good, solid advice that focused on decision-making and the variety of situations the world presents us with.

The Author didn't assume that he knew best either. He assumed the opposite in fact. That when it comes to your career, you're always the one in the best place to choose.

Here's one short passage to give you an idea what you'd be getting into by reading this book:

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose"

OK, so this book won't answer all of your career questions in anapestic tetrameter but then again, it doesn't try to.

Instead, all it does is try to equip you with the knowledge that you will face choices, that things will sometimes be tough, that there will be ups, downs and everything in-between.

This book not only fills you with what organisational psychologists might call an increased tolerance for ambiguity, it also puts a smile on your face. Maybe Dr. Seuss knew that this is what you need most when you're, "in a slump" as he puts it.

Maybe Dr. Seuss wrote this book for the adult readers as much as the kids they would read it to/with. But even if you couldn't bring yourself to see this book as deserving of anything other than a pre-schooler's bookshelf, you would have to grudgingly admit that the subject matter of careers looks distinctly more interesting when it is touched by an artist in this way.

On the question of whether you should buy this book or not, allow me to respond by borrowing a little from Dr. Seuss's style:

If you're in two minds then all I can say
Is decide for yourself, today is your day!
(Plus £4.99 is all that you'll pay) :)

All the best for now,


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Defining Career Continuity

When this blog started out the posts were a lot more frequent (Apologies), as was my reliance on the dictionary.

Don't worry, this isn't another one of those articles about how things were better in the past (How the sun shone longer, confectionery was virtually free and there was no street crime, etc, etc.) but I do look back sometimes and think how much the dictionary helped.

Getting to grips with the words we all use to describe our relationship with work, our careers, what motivates us and so on, was a real eye opener because it turns out that plenty of these words have more than one meaning.

As a result - you guessed it - these important words could mean one thing to you and something completely different to the person next to you.

In anyone's book that can lead to trouble communicating.

(New English Dictionary - not the most precise definition in this case)

As the dictionary definitions came thick and fast - OK, in truth there was only really a handful - it became apparent that some of these words had meanings that took on a new relevance and importance within the world of work and careers.

Explorations into our individual relationship with work brought changes so the language people needed to express themselves had to change too.

It's been a while but these changes in work, and in the language used to describe it, have caused me to re-open the dictionary and offer a new word and a new definition today. That word and that subject is, 'Continuity'.

The idea of continuity in careers is definitely changing. Continuity in the past (you might prefer the word stability, or theme, or consistency, or something completely different but I like continuity) was mainly spoken of in terms of employment. "How many years have you been in continuous employment?" is a question you might recognise from questionnaires and forms.

Now and in the future, 'career continuity' can also mean something different. It has taken on a new meaning that goes beyond employment and refers to an individual person and the life-span of their career too.

As you can see below, I have borrowed from the style of a dictionary - Yes, Dictionaries do have style! - to try to expose a little more of this new 'career' dimension behind the word 'continuity'.

Take a look and see what you think...


noun ( pl. continuities)

1 the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time : you can find a new continuity behind your career choices

a state of stability and the absence of disruption : your career experiences demonstrate a continuity that goes beyond employment.

(often continuity between/with) a connection or line of development with no sharp breaks : learning more about your individual relationship with work will help you discover a new sense of career continuity

2 the maintenance of continuous action and self-consistent detail throughout your career

the linking of career items with a common theme and through all forms of communication (spoken, written, electronic, etc.)

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French continuite, from Latin continuitas, from continuare ‘continue,’ from continuus (see continuous).

I'll admit that the above definition only really makes sense if you can experience the difference between a lack of career continuity and possession of it. [or in the absence of possession, an understanding of career continuity at least.]

Without a sense of continuity, there is a good chance that your career can feel lost at times (e.g. if you are out of work for long periods).

With a sense of continuity that stays relevant to your career whether you are in work, out of work or facing anything else, you can never feel lost in the same way.

In other words, the feelings of being lost (or finding yourself in a place where recovery is impossible) aren't as destructive. In fact, if you can find a solid sense of career continuity, a great deal of power is taken away from difficult career situations and given back to you. The main threads and thrusts of your career remain in your hands.

I hope you don't mind this little trip down memory lane with the dictionary. I'd be very keen to hear your opinions on the subject of career continuity, including what your own definition of career continuity might look like!

All the best for now,



Here are some more dictionary definitions that have appeared on work/life fusion in previous posts:








Monday, 7 September 2009

Interview with Ford R. Myers

In my opinion, there is always room in the world for a new book that aims to help you take charge of your career.

Ford R. Myers' new book, 'Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring' not only aims to help you take charge of your career, Ford also thinks it can help you find a job that you love and earn what you deserve too!

With a recipe for amazing career success like this, I guessed that you might want to know more. I am therefore delighted to say that Ford has very kindly agreed to answer a few questions here...

Ford, Thank You for joining us on the work/life fusion blog. Here's our first question for you:

What was your intention when you sat down to write this book?

My intention in writing this book was to provide everyone with the tools and resources that are necessary to take charge of their careers, find the work they love and earn what they deserve. To survive and thrive In today’s very challenging job market, the unique strategies and special skills featured in my book are absolutely essential.

What kind of people do you think your book helps the most?

This book is most helpful to readers who are motivated to achieve their professional potential, and who are willing to take full responsibility for their career outcomes. Additionally, this book is most appropriate for people who have already achieved some level of success and accomplishment in their careers – as opposed to entry-level readers.

What's the best thing a reader could say about your book?

The best thing a reader could say about my book is that it opened their eyes to what’s possible in their careers – and that it provided all the practical tools needed to achieve their career goals.

Is there a reader success story that really put a smile on your face?

Last month, a reader called to tell me about his experience with my book. He told me that he had been very anxious for weeks about his upcoming performance review. He feared the worst, and had even started “putting out feelers” for other jobs. Then, he read about my book in The New York Times. He purchased a copy immediately, and studied it closely from cover to cover. This gave him a fresh perspective, and a totally new approach to use at his performance review. By the time his meeting with the boss concluded, not only had this reader not been let go, but he had been promoted two levels with a substantial raise. He told me, “I never could have imagined such a result, had it not been for the strategies in your fabulous book!”

Do you expect the book to have a lasting effect on people and their careers?

If readers have an open mind, do all the exercises, review the entire book, and consistently implement the primary strategies – yes, I am certain that it will have a lasting effect on their careers.

To what do you attribute your own success?

I attribute my own success to many factors, including: hard work and persistence, following a detailed plan, and striving to do better and be more. Because I spent many years in a different industry, I bring a unique perspective to Career Coaching. In addition, I always under-promise and over-deliver, with uncompromising standards of integrity and quality. I strive to touch every client’s life on a personal level, and never provide “cookie-cutter” programs. This has led to lasting relationships, as well as a constant stream of client referrals and business opportunities.

Have there ever been moments in your career when you needed support?

There have definitely been moments in my career when I needed support. I have always known how to ask for help and solicit the resources I needed, because real success cannot be achieved or sustained “on your own.” One type of assistance I received many years ago was in the form of hiring my own Career Consultant, who helped me in a profound way by facilitating the shift into my current career.

What did you turn to during difficult times before your book was around?

During difficult times, before my book was around, I turned to friends and family – and also to other consultants and coaches in my field. These support systems were enormously beneficial, and continue to be so even now.

What support are you offering to readers of your book if they have follow-up questions?

As it clearly states in my book, if readers have follow-up questions, they are welcome to contact my office any time. I (or another Career Coach on my team), will respond promptly to address the reader’s question or problem. Many readers have already reached-out to me, and this experience has been most gratifying. In addition, there are extensive online resources that come along with the book, which are available 24/7 – for free!

What changes do you see ahead of us in the future of jobs and work?

The biggest change I see in the future of “jobs” is that the fundamental definition of work is in the process of shifting dramatically. The work-world our parents experienced no longer exists; yet no new concept of work has been fully established. In a sense, all working people are therefore in a “state of limbo,” waiting to see how the career landscape will look “when the dust settles.” For many, this is a disorienting and confusing period – but we are also faced with a huge opportunity to create a more enlightened experience of work that will be more appropriate for today’s world.

Ford, on behalf of our readers, thank you for taking the time to talk to us here!

If you have any questions for Ford please join the conversation by commenting below.

You can also learn more about Ford and his new book at

Ford R. Myers, Author or 'Get the Job You Want Even When No One's Hiring'

I hope you enjoyed the above Q&A. Let me know what you think via comment or email.

As always, Thank You for reading!

Best Regards


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Back to School

September means back to school after a long break if you are a student but what about the rest of us?

If we are lucky enough to have one, the Summer holiday for most people of working age is a long weekend, a week, maybe even two weeks if we are really blessed.

Some time away from the shop, the desk or wherever else we sit down, stand up or lay on our backs to work (and before your mind runs elsewhere, mechanics lay on their backs to get under cars and trucks. Shame on you!).

Maybe some people have the luxury of not thinking too much about work during August but September is the end of the holidays for most of them too.

If you have been looking for work throughout August, or your Summer of work has been unsettled in some other way, there is a pretty good chance you missed out on the holiday feeling. It is possible that your future at work was all you could think about.

[It could so easily be British Summertime at the Seaside but it's a California Storm - see more at Saundra's Flickr Photostream here]

You might have spent a lot of your time on the phone, scouring the classifieds, writing letters of application, working on your CV/Resume or doing the rounds of job fairs and interviews.

While the sun shone [if you spent summer outside the UK that is] you may have stayed true to the task of making your job or your work situation better.

All you could bring yourself to do, might have been to sit there and wonder or worry about what to do next.

Whatever you did, I want you to know that it was worth it.

If any of the above reminds you of the Summer you just had, then let your time spent this way be a ray of sunshine to keep you warm as the weather gets cooler.

The time you have spent thinking and doing throughout June, July and August has not been wasted because it has focused on your relationship with work.

Even if you feel like you got nothing in return, these months will have taught you something of your courage, your determination and your ability to keep going.

Even if all you got were letters of rejection, you should know that within the process of achieving that response, lies something of the grit and the skill that will win you a letter of acceptance one day.

Whatever you did, if you did any of the above it was worth it. Let that fond memory of Summer keep you going now that we are all back to school!

All the best for now,



Here are some previous posts that you might find interesting if you want to explore your relationship with work a little further: