As a phased return to the workplace begins to become a reality for many of us, you’ll find the workplace you’re returning to is very different from the one you left. For some, the rapid move to remote working may have been a big adjustment, but transitioning back could be an even greater challenge. To begin with, adherence to social distancing will see your former workplace layout replaced with a new seating plan, and it is likely that you will return on a scheduled basis with staggered start and finish times. There will also be fewer in-person meetings, and any that do take place may need to have time limits and a cap on attendees. In short, the workplace will be re-ordered to keep people further apart than most of us have ever experienced before in our working lives. Whilst you will still encounter many more in-person interactions with your colleagues compared to your time remote working, you should expect significantly reduced levels of contact in comparison to pre-pandemic times. Consequently, if you are the type of person who thrives on interaction with your colleagues, you should set aside the time now to adapt and find alternative measures to facilitate safe social interaction in the workplace. To prepare, here’s some points you’ll need to consider: You’ll have fewer informal in-person chats Firstly, you should expect your office space to look very different. To comply with continued physical distancing measures, your employer will have reconfigured seating plans and moved desks apart to separate people. You may even find yourself further separated from colleagues by partitions. Hot-desking, where several employees use a single workstation at different times, will also go by the wayside as employers assign employees their own equipment and look to reduce the number of shared touchpoints people come into contact with on a daily basis. In addition, you’ll no longer be able to sit and chat with colleagues in a break-out area or a communal kitchen. By keeping staff physically distant, there will be fewer opportunities for in-person conversations. You can no longer simply look up from your monitor and ask a quick question, for example, or roll your chair over to your colleague’s desk to talk through an idea. Neither can you crowd into a meeting room for an in-person consultation with your team. You won’t see colleagues as frequently Organisations will transition their workforce back into the office in stages to reduce density in the workplace. A rota-based system is the most likely strategy to begin with, which will see you continuing to work from home on certain days and coming into the office on others. This means you’ll only initially see those colleagues who are scheduled to work in the office on the same day or days as you. Employers may also adopt staggered start and finish times to further reduce the number of employees gathering at the lift at the beginning and end of each day. In addition, many people are expected to ask to continue to work from home after the pandemic, even once restrictions lift and employees can return full-time to the office. With the widespread realisation that employees can work successfully from home, hybrid teams will become common. As a result, the notion of having all your colleagues in the one co-located workplace all the time is a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll need to become comfortable operating in a hybrid team where face-to-face interactions with all your team members occurs far less frequently. If you find you work best face-to-face, look at alternatives Together, these changes result in a less interactive environment. Chances are you’ll either relish or loathe this change. After all, all workplaces consist of people with a mixture of working styles. Some people shine in a collaborative, team-based environment where they can seek out in-person social stimulation, think out loud with others and brainstorm together at their desk. In contrast, the introverts in your workplace thrive when working on individual tasks, value privacy, like to make their own decisions rather than consult a group, and come up with their best ideas after contemplating a problem on their own. The latter group will welcome these workplace changes, while the former will miss the hustle and bustle of a full office, the opportunity to drop by their colleague’s desk to bounce ideas around and the chance to work closely with others in a group setting. So, if you have previously thrived in a social, connected and collaborative environment, you will need to find new ways to keep your motivation, energy and output high. Six ways to adapt if your post-lockdown workplace doesn’t suit your working style 1. Make time for casual (virtual) catch-ups. Begin by working out how you can continue to use virtual alternatives to build a rapport and interactions with your colleagues. Over the last few months, we have all used communication platforms to hold regular virtual meetings and video calls. However, the days of relying on such tools are far from over – the need to comply with physical distancing measures means that teams will still use these tools for a significant portion of their face-to-face interactions, especially in hybrid teams where some colleagues continue to work remotely. Given that we will still rely on such tools, why not make the most of them by dedicating time in each meeting for small talk? For example, you could invite people to remain for ten minutes after your weekly team meeting or join ten minutes early for a casual chat. You may need to initiate the initial conversation, but you’ll likely find your colleagues will soon come to look forward to this opportunity to talk casually with their colleagues. This will give you a chance to recharge your energy through social conversations and interactions with others. 2. Create opportunities for talking things through. You could also ask to add into the weekly meeting agenda a dedicated time for brainstorming, where anyone can share a challenge they are facing or task they would like to discuss. If you are the type of person who generates their best ideas by talking them through with others, this will give you an opportunity to think out loud and discuss your thoughts. 3. Network online as much as possible. If you enjoy talking and socialising, and draw your energy from interactions with others, you could also up the amount of time you spend networking online and take every opportunity to pick up the phone and talk to colleagues. So long as you adhere to social distancing, you can still talk through an idea with colleagues who are working in the office too, but it’s important to be mindful that not everyone will want you regularly dropping by their desk. 4. If possible, ask to come into the workplace on a more regular basis. If you require the hum of activity in a busy office to do your best work, ask your employer if you can return permanently to the office. While your employer may need to restrict the number of employees who can work in the office initially, there may be someone in your team who would prefer to work exclusively from home. If that’s the case, ask if you could be assigned their allocated office-based days on the rota. 5. Look for upskilling opportunities. It may also help you to use this time to upskill in independent working techniques. Learning how to self-motivate, trust your instincts and individually solve problems without needing to talk through ideas with others are skills that will benefit you long-term in your career. There are many tools and platforms out there for you to choose from when it comes to upskilling remotely at this time, from podcasts to virtual webinars and books. With fewer opportunities to chat casually at your colleagues’ desks or while sitting down over a quick cup of tea in the kitchen, you may also find that your productivity or quality of work improves as you have more time to spend on your individual output. 6. Prioritise your wellbeing. Finally, it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing. If you thrive when working closely with others in a group setting, you may find yourself battling feelings of loneliness, even when you are back in the office. After all, those partitions and separated desks are designed to keep people further apart than most of us have ever experienced before at work, so look out for suitable opportunities where you can interact with others – just ensure you adhere to the necessary physical distancing while doing so. To sum up, if you are someone who naturally performs at your best when interacting in-person with others, these tips should help you find new ways to keep your motivation, energy and output high in today’s modified workplace. You may not be pulling your chair up to a colleague’s desk for a chat or to brainstorm, but you can find alternative measures to bring out your best and interact with others safely in the post-lockdown workplace.
Remotely starting a job with a new employer may seem daunting, but technology certainly makes it easier. Sinead Byrne, Senior Consultant at Morgan McKinley interviews a new starter in a Top 15 firm about their experience. As we are all aware, we are living through unprecedented times. Those who are able to, have now been working from home for the last month which has been something of a transition for many. Even more of an adjustment, however, is starting a new job without meeting your new colleagues in person, or going into the office, and starting with your new employer remotely. It's not a conventional start to a new job, but it is manageable in a way that it would not have been possible five years ago. The candidate below started their new job at the start of April as an Audit Senior position with a Top 15 firm, moving from an Audit & Accounts Senior with an independent London firm. How were you feeling in the 2 weeks before your start date? I was stressed, and unsure if I would be able to start, and what the process would look like. Despite the firm ensuring me that they were looking forward to me starting as agreed, the situation was changing fast, so I was not sure which direction it was going to go. How did you start with the firm on your first day? It was well organised. All of the equipment was couriered to me in advance with the login details I need and I received an introduction of the person who would be contacting me on my first day. I had inductions and introductions over Skype as well as a video call to ‘meet’ my team. Everyone was welcoming and understanding. I met some colleagues in my first week and I keep meeting the rest as we work together. New technology and the ability to see colleagues on a video call makes it easier and less stressful than in the office! Did you follow the normal induction and training programme as you would have done in the office? As much as possible, yes. There are obvious things like using the equipment which is in the office, the ‘office’ procedures which are not relevant in the current situation, but the option to share screens made it easy to do the induction and training. How are you finding the transition to your new firm's way of working from a technical perspective? The fact that I moved from a small to a bigger firm makes a big difference due to different software and expertise, although it is difficult to say which solutions were already in place, and which needed to be implemented due to the situation. What has been your biggest challenge so far of starting with a new employer remotely? Working remotely - it was easy to work from home one day here and there, but it’s a different story doing it daily. Finding a comfortable chair and another table, so my flatmate and I could work appropriately was challenging! Have there been any unexpected positives from your experience? Due to the situation, people are not rushing so much, so willing to take their time, personally and professionally. What are you looking forward to the most about joining the firm 'in person'? Despite the technology that we are lucky enough to have, it will be nice to meet all my colleagues and go for a drink! At the end of the day, any technology however sophisticated can’t replace human interaction or a chat in the kitchen with coffee.
How ‘visible’ do you really feel at work right now, having potentially not seen your managers and colleagues in months, unless via virtual contact? Whether you’ve continued to go into work or are now based remotely, the world of work has changed for us all and that’s posed challenges for many employees trying staying visible and noticed. Findings from over 16,000 respondents in the Hays Market Outlook report revealed that two in five (40%) say that communication is the aspect of their organisation that has undergone the most change since the coronavirus outbreak and, worryingly, over a third (34%) say the amount of contact they now have with their manager is less than before lockdown was enforced. What should you do? In an unrecognisable world of work and facing significant barriers to communication, what do you need to do to keep yourself ‘visible’ to your managers and colleagues – and therefore keep your career goals on track? If you are now working remotely at least some of the time, you will need to actively keep in touch, even if at first it may feel like you are overcommunicating. 1. Start with your manager As the person you directly report into, your manager is your starting point to getting noticed more at work. Although they will already likely have oversight of your tasks and responsibilities, putting the below in place will give you more opportunities to get noticed for your achievements and successes: Make some diary changes. This might include a weekly phone call, a chat over Slack or Microsoft Teams, or an emailed detailed KPI report each fortnight. Whatever form it takes, commit to regular communication so you have more opportunities to discuss your work, achievements and career goals. It’s an easy fix to ensure your manager notices more than just your day-to-day tasks. Seek advice and feedback. Whenever you and your manager are working together, ensure you ask for their feedback. This provides them with the opportunity to acknowledge your efforts and helps you maximise opportunities for growth. Take ownership. When you have the capacity, express interest to your manager in owning projects or leading your team through a new piece of work. Even if you can’t immediately find opportunities to step up for, showing that you’re up for a challenge will make your manager more likely to consider you first when they do arise. Be transparent about your schedule. You may already be aware of the benefits of routine for your productivity, but it’s also valuable in helping your manager keep track of what you’re up to at work. Being clear about when you are and aren’t available goes a long way to building credibility and trust, and will continue to be hugely important as we transition into different ways of working. Share your success and thanks: In those moments when you’re feeling proud of your work, don’t be afraid to share this with your manager. It’s fine to send a casual instant message rather than an email, and perhaps frame your achievement by saying “thank you for your support with this” to acknowledge the role that they might have played in this success. 2. Raise your voice in your inner circle of colleagues While you’ll certainly want recognition from your manager, it’s likely that there’ll also be other people who you want to notice you at work. Opportune moments for this often happen in meetings, which for many of us may be held virtually. It can be challenging to find your voice over a disjointed video stream or patchy audio quality – especially if you’re often one of the quieter voices in the room, or consider yourself to be quite introverted. But getting noticed in these situations is less about how much you say and more about what you say – so here are some things to consider before you next attend a meeting, virtual or otherwise: What is your value? Take a moment before the meeting starts to work out what its purpose is and what your value could be. Do you have insight or information which is pivotal to the topic of discussion? Making a note of this beforehand will help you better see opportunities to bring this up. What do you want to learn? If you don’t feel your role in the meeting is critical, work out what you want to learn. This will help you stay engaged in the meeting and might lead you to asking questions or steering the discussion in a certain way which will help you get noticed. Is what you’re saying relevant? Often people are more likely to listen if they feel heard, so if you are raising a new topic or asking a question, briefly reiterate what the person before you said. Not only does this help the flow of the meeting but gives your comment relevance. Are you still on track? Even the best listeners might find their mind wandering in a meeting. If you find this happening to you, don’t be afraid to ask a question to help get your focus back. You could say: “I’m sorry, I slightly lost track. Please could we take a step back…”. This will probably help others on the call too. Have you made use of the time? Finally, make time before and/or after the meeting to chat with those present. Whether it’s catching up about your weekend or digesting some of the nitty gritty of the meeting itself, chatting outside of the agenda of the meeting can help you build rapport with others and put your name out there. 3. Keep building your wider network Finally, think about how you can get yourself noticed within your wider network. If you are working remotely even some of the time, you have to be deliberate and dedicated about connecting with your colleagues, as there will be fewer opportunities for informal conversations in the office kitchen or the chance to network at industry events. But the opportunities are there if you create them, so there’s no need to stop connecting with wider circles and putting yourself out there. Here are some ideas of how to keep expanding your network virtually: Virtual coffee mornings and lunch dates – perfect for catching up with colleagues, mentors, clients and customers who you have a good relationship with. Webinars and virtual industry events – the place to learn from industry experts and connect with likeminded professionals in your field. Social media – where you can follow leaders, interact with professionals in different groups and profile your own thoughts and work. Volunteering – an opportunity to meet new people and potentially expand your network into new areas aligned with your passion. Once you dip your toe in the water you may be surprised how many virtual opportunities there are around you.
While management is typically about managing resources, completing tasks and getting things done, leadership is much more strategic, and very much future-focused. Effective leadership skills empower you to build trust with, influence and motivate people to achieve goals. So which attributes make a good leader? 1. Self-awareness; a deep understanding of ethics, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drivers. Leaders with strong self-awareness are often honest with themselves and others, and as a result, are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Leaders with higher levels of self-awareness are also often better at hiring subordinates with skills that they lack. Similarly, it’s important to know the strengths, abilities and talents of the people in your team. Try asking each of your workers what they think their strengths are and what kind of role they think they would excel in. Your team and its performance will be stronger – and more fulfilled – if the right people are given the right responsibilities. If there are any gaps in your team's knowledge or experience, support them by organising training sessions, so that nobody feels left behind. 2. Self-regulation; controlling and channelling emotional impulses to lead effectively. Leaders who are good at regulating their emotions often have a propensity for reflection and thoughtfulness and are comfortable with ambiguity and change. They are often more positive, which impacts on those around them and is essential to productivity and employee happiness. 3. Motivation; highly driven to achieve beyond expectations. Motivated leaders display lots of passion for their work, seek out creative challenges and love to learn. Self-motivation is central to action-based leadership and will inspire and encourage team members to follow their leader’s example. 4. Empathy; considering employees’ feelings while making important decisions. Leaders who show empathy are often better at developing and retaining talent. This is crucial for increasing a team’s functionality and ensuring talented employees do not leave the organisation – taking their knowledge and skills with them. 5. Social skills; able to move people in the desired direction. Leaders who have good social skills are often adept at managing teams and are expert persuaders. Fundamentally, leaders have good social skills if they want to successfully influence a team and align their attitudes with an organisation’s overall mission and goals. 6. Responsibility; whether this takes the form of delegating work, or having the confidence to take responsibility when things go wrong, employees’ productivity is immediately impacted by their leader’s ability to take responsibility and lead the team in their daily work. New leaders often struggle with letting go and delegating work. The secret of success here is building trust. Get to know your team. Understand the skills and knowledge of each individual; their strengths and development areas and how they can contribute. Delegation then becomes a much easier process. 7. Adaptability; being able to quickly adapt to new situations is critical to being an effective leader. Leaders who possess strong intuition and creativity tend to be better at thinking outside the box and approach new situations in a way that’s in the best interest of workers as well as the organisation. Being open to positive and negative feedback is vital in understanding how well our management and leadership style is working for the team and offers us an opportunity to adapt. Listening to team members, understanding their needs and adapting our leadership style to get the best performance and contribution from them is crucial. 8. Communication; having the ability to communicate clearly directly impacts a leader’s ability to influence and motivate others into contributing to the overall success of an organisation. Employees want to believe in what they’re working towards and the clearer their leader is at communicating will make it easier for them to understand his/her mission, goals and vision. Leadership challenges Managing former peers One of the most difficult challenges in any person’s career is leading a team of people they used to work with. Here are some tips that could help: 1. Be prepared to ride the roller coaster Expect some initial resentment and doubt from your team, don’t assume they’ll all be on your side from the outset. You have to accept they won’t always agree with or like your decisions. 2. Accept you are no longer part of the gang This doesn’t mean eliminating your likeability or friendly approach but you do need to accept that you are now the boss. You need to find a balance between having amicable relationships but still being able to tackle any difficult issues such as poor performance, inappropriate conduct etc. 3. Consider the characters Some people will be pleased for you, others might be envious and some will be disappointed it wasn’t them. If you have a particularly close friendship with someone, it will be beneficial to have a conversation about how things will need to be professional to avoid any claims of favouritism. Usually, if you have this conversation you will find your friend is understanding and supportive and appreciates you taking the time to have a conversation about it. 4. Focus on your relationship with your boss Understand the results you have to deliver as a leader and discuss how you plan to do this. Seek support from them to help you make the transition from team player to manager. Get them to announce your promotion to the team and lay out what they expect in terms of support for you. 5. Set expectations early Present your plans to the team and let them know both what goals you want them to achieve and how. Outline how you will support and involve them. This also helps them to understand how much change is likely to happen. Do some of this in team sessions and then arrange one to ones with each team member to find out how they feel and invite their input. In these individual sessions make it clear that you're always available if they have a problem or need someone to talk to. 6. Trust your team Micromanagement is never a good way to get the best out of your skilled employees. Managers who trust their workers are far more likely to be rewarded with better performance and results. Giving your team members the freedom to handle tasks in their way, to come up with their solutions to the challenges they face and to make important decisions can boost their confidence no end. Giving feedback Positive and constructive criticism can help strengthen relationships between workers, managers and employers, and improve the quality of work as well as encourage higher productivity. Here are some tips on giving constructive, effective feedback: 1. Don’t delay For maximum effectiveness, try to say something as soon as possible after the issue arises, rather than waiting before commenting. It’s rarely helpful to get feedback for something you did weeks or months later. 2. Choose the right time and place Depending on the nature of your feedback, the recipient may not appreciate your conversation being overheard. Before you act, think about whether it’s appropriate to speak up privately or in public. Also, take the recipient’s state of mind into account. If they’re upset, nervous or angry, it may be advisable to wait until they’re calmer and in a better state of mind. 3. Avoid getting personal Remember that effective feedback shouldn’t be about the person in question, but about the way they have behaved or something they have done. Your comments won’t be seen as constructive if you criticise someone’s appearance, beliefs or values. It’s good practice to phrase your feedback in terms of how something has affected you and what you thought about it. This helps the recipient accept your feedback less personally, as they can’t be responsible for how you feel. 4. Be specific Whatever you’re feeding back on, stick closely to the facts of the matter and be very specific – avoid general statements. Think carefully about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it, and stick to the issue in question. If you’re commenting on something somebody has done or the way they have behaved, mention the specific occasion when it happened. Most importantly, try to offer positive suggestions on how they could do things differently or how they could improve the situation. 5. Credit where credit’s due Don’t forget to praise your co-workers or employees when they do a good job. Taking the time to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts can boost their self-esteem as well as their attitude towards their job and the company. It also shows them you’re interested in them and the role they play in the workplace. Develop your leadership skills with the support of a professional coach. Get in touch to find out more.
During any extra free time that lockdown affords, it will come quite naturally for some to take a moment of stillness and reflect on their career – but for others, this will require a more proactive effort. But being physically away from your usual workplace for longer than ever before is a great time to consider both your current job and your future career. To get you started, here are some questions you should ask yourself – you never know what they might reveal about your long-term professional goals and aspirations: 1. Does your current job bring you happiness? It’s incredibly easy to let the fast pace of modern life distract us from addressing how happy we really are in our jobs. As writer Annie Dillard famously said, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”, so when our days largely consist of going to work, the true happiness this brings should be one of the first things we question. Consider: What parts of your job do you enjoy? What would you change about your job if you had the chance? Does your current role allow you to take steps towards fulfilling your long-term career aspirations? It may seem like a big place to start, but it’s fundamental that your job brings you happiness so this should frame the rest of your career reflection. 2. Can you bring your authentic self to work? The pace of change at the moment may be leaving many of us questioning our place in the world and who we really are as people. Whether or not you are contemplating this about your personal life, you might benefit from reflecting this way on your professional life by thinking about the person you bring to work every day and who you are around your colleagues. Signs that you are your authentic self at work: It doesn’t take considerable effort to go to work each day You have like-minded colleagues who you enjoy spending time with in and out of work You feel motivated to improve and better yourself in your job As part of this reflection, now might also be the time to (virtually) explore any networks or groups your organisation has in place so you can reap the benefits of working alongside genuine companions each day. 3. Do you connect to the purpose of your job? This unsettling and uncertain time might have also made you realise what brings the most meaning to you personally, and as a result, maybe this is the time to consider taking your career in that direction. It’s important to question what truly matters to you and whether your work aligns to this. Try to go beyond simply looking at your company’s slogan and dive deeper into its values and mission. Your job should feel rewarding, meaningful and fulfilling. If you come to realise that your job doesn’t make you feel this way, now might be the time to find a role that better aligns to your own moral code. 4. Would you do as your employer does? When organisations go through crises, their management strategies (or lack of) can expose a whole host of issues which may be of concern to you as an employee. Ask yourself: If you were the CEO of your organisation, what would you be doing to manage the impacts of the pandemic? Do you agree with your organisation’s internal and external response to what’s happening? Has your organisation made you feel as supported as possible throughout this period? Look at other brands to gauge how employers are approaching this differently and if you see something that you’re particularly impressed with, can you bring this into your own organisation or is it time to think about moving to greener pastures? 5. Is home working your preferred way of working? It’s more than likely that the current situation will have forced you to work remotely, possibly for the first time ever. While some of us will already be looking forward to going back to our daily routines of commuting into the office to interact with our colleagues, for others, the flexibility of working from home is striking the right work-life balance. As we transition through this period and the situation begins to normalise, think about whether you would like to keep some of this flexibility into your working life. Agile working comes in different forms, such as: Job sharing (where two people do one job and split the hours) Working remotely (which many of us are experiencing currently) Part time (working fewer hours per week) Compressed hours (working full-time but over fewer days) Flexitime (having flexibility around the hours you work, usually around ‘core’ working hours) Consider speaking to your boss about one or a combination of these agile working arrangements, or think about prioritising this in your next role. 6. Does your job play to your strengths? Many people’s roles are shifting scope at the moment and you might have found yourself temporarily taking on new tasks and responsibilities. If this is the case for you, has it led you to realise that your skillset is wider than you thought? Ask yourself: What am I naturally good at and do I get to demonstrate this in my current role? Do I get the opportunity to upskill in my job and improve my work? How well have I handled new tasks and responsibilities? Asking these questions should illuminate whether there’s scope to take your current role in a direction that builds on your natural skillset or what you need to look for in your next role to ensure that you’re a better match. 7. Are your career goals still relevant? The change that Covid-19 has brought to the world of work and continues to bring is likely to be lasting, as ways of working have shifted so dramatically. With this and your other career reflection in mind, you might have come to realise that your career goals have also, in fact, shifted. Take this time to reassess where you want to take your career, starting by setting some short-term goals to achieve over the next 3 months. Some examples might include: “In three months, I want to have learned how to use [a particular computer system] and use it day-to-day without needing support.” “In three months, I want to have been to three different networking events and built my contact base on LinkedIn by [x] people.” “In three months, I want to have started a new job which gives me more flexibility than my current job.” More regular and short-term career planning will help you keep these goals in sight, ensure they are relevant to who and where you are in your life, and motivate you to achieve them. Maintain self-reflection throughout your career Make the most of having more time on your hands by addressing your professional life and where your career is now. Things will begin to normalise, but that doesn’t mean that every aspect of your working life has to go back to how it was before once this lockdown period is over. Mapping out the big picture of your career by asking yourself these questions above will help you maintain sight of what you want to be doing in your life and how you can stay satisfied and successful in your job for the long term. If you’re considering your next step, get in contact with one of our expert recruitment consultants for a confidential chat about the career options available to you, or to access a host of resources for helping you adapt to the new way of working, visit our Inspire Me Remotely Hub. As your lifelong career partner, we are with you every step of the way and will be updating this site regularly with new guides, blogs and information to support you.
A lot of people find themselves on the job market at the moment for numerous reasons because of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Perhaps you have been on the market since pre-Covid-19, or you have unfortunately been let go as a result. You might currently be on furliugh and placed on the coronavirus job retention scheme, which has given you a chance to look at job boards and reevaluate your career or your current employer. Whatever the reason might be, you can be assured that ICAEW Jobs will continue to support you through your career. Even in the current circumstances, staying at home represents a great time for applying for jobs. We have put together our Top 5 tips to support you through your job searching during this current time. Grow and nurture your network There’s a famous saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know” and there are elements of truth in this. Obviously, your academic achievements are a given as a Chartered Accountant, but perhaps what could give you the edge is a thriving network of key professionals. During these uncertain times, a lot of people will have more time on their hands, so this could be a great time to reach out to your connections, check in on them and have a catch up. So many of us struggle to make time for such activity during normal life, and relationships can become distanced. Take this time to reconnect; you never know they could be a key part in putting your foot in the door of potential employers which can lead to your next dream role. Focus on professional development Whether you’re currently in a role or out of work, now could be a great time to focus on your CPD. If nothing else this will show commitment on your CV and during your next job interview, but you will also learn some new key skills and develop existing skills further. Several companies are now offering courses online completely free of charge as they are sensitive to the current market. The ICAEW itself is also running several webinars where you can keep up to date on industry specific updates, as well as learning how to adapt to this new remote work life we find ourselves in. Work on your CV While you’re in a new role, keeping your CV up to date may be the last thing in your mind with thoughts of “I have no intention of leaving any time soon” coming to mind. Fast forward four years and you find yourself ready to enter the job market once again, but what on earth have you done for the past four years? You know you’ve achieved a lot as you have always had great job satisfaction, but what should you write down? What are you proud of? What have you overcome? What cost savings have you implemented? Thinking back to these key milestones that are important for your CV is not easy and takes time. We’ve all got a bit more time on our hands currently, even if it’s just saving on the daily commute times, so use it wisely. Find yourself a quiet corner and really take time to think back and remember your key achievements over your most recent tenure and get your CV and cover letter up to date. Whether you’re actively looking for your next role now, or in the near future, you will be grateful that you updated and optimised your CV while you had the chance to reflect Stay positive This doesn’t just relate to finding a job, but to the whole pandemic and the effect it is having on our daily lives. Remaining positive is important for our well-being and is crucial to allowing us to maintain a routine and have some focus. Referring to the job market specifically, there are definite reasons to remain positive. Yes, many companies have implemented a recruitment freeze, but this won’t be forever, and the recruitment market is normally one of the first to bounce back after turbulent times. Furthermore, there are still many companies currently recruiting, looking for people to work from home, making it the perfect time for you to apply for full time roles. Competition is not as high right now, which is always a plus, but also, you’ll have more time to dedicate to your application, receive calls from the hiring manager, attend an interview (albeit a video interview and not face to face) and receive job offers. Plan ahead Now could be a great time for you to reflect on your career to date and look ahead to the future and how you envisage that future being. Perhaps it’s time to consider the age-old question, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. The hiring process may change after the coronavirus pandemic in the new normal, but the skills employers expect won't. Career planning is important to ensure that you have direction and purpose in your career, so now could be the perfect opportunity to spend time researching the industry or job title you’d always dreamt of doing. Is it all you thought it would be, or has something else now caught your interest? Start thinking what you’ll need to achieve to reach that next step. In order to progress do you need to start managing a team, if so, how about taking part in some online courses on team leadership? Be mindful and self-aware of what might potentially hold you back from making that next move, and use this time to overcome those obstacles so you’re ready to achieve your goal So, whether you find yourself looking for your next role imminently, or just planning for the future, these 5 job search tips are a great starting point to give you some direction and advice on what to focus on right now. Obviously you still need to be keeping an eye on the latest finance roles when job hunting, and ICAEW Jobs has hundreds of live vacancies all suited to fully qualified Chartered Accountants. It takes a special kind of individual to pass all their ACA exams and become an ICAEW member, so don’t let Covid-19 get in the way of securing your next dream career move.
There is no doubt that these are unprecedented and challenging times. However, you might still be thinking about your career and what your next steps might look like. Here are our tips for job hunting during lockdown: 1. Get the basics ready First things first: ensure you have an up-to-date CV – take a look at our tips on getting your CV ready, or find out more about building a strong graduate CV. Then, be sure you know what you’d like from your next opportunity. What kinds of responsibilities have you had in the past, and what would you like in a new role? Are there any areas in which you want to improve, and what kind of roles would play to your skillsets and strengths? What kind of company size are you more suited to – would you fit in better at a corporate organisation or a start-up? Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years, and what do you need from your next role to help you achieve these goals? Answering all these questions in advance will help you streamline your search – and help you better answer ‘why I want this job’ should you get through to interview stage! 2. Keep in regular contact with your recruiter Of course, in-person contact is out of the question for the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speak to your recruiter. Here at Hays, all our recruiters are working as normal, albeit remotely. Whether you are looking for a permanent job or a temporary or contract role, get in touch and if you can, use video-calls to ensure better face-to-face interaction. During your call, be sure to cover all the above points, so they understand as much as possible about you and your unique professional ambitions. Be clear with your availability, whether you are able to take video interviews and provide feedback throughout every interaction with them or after any interview. 3. Be open-minded The ongoing global situation has inevitably caused some changes in demand, with some industries seeing a clear surge in demand. If you are on the lookout for a temporary role, it may help to have a degree of flexibility. Showing an open mind and taking on new challenges may mean that you get experience in an area you might not have otherwise, and discover strengths you didn’t realise you had. Consider what factors you are willing to compromise on, and what factors will be integral to your workplace wellbeing and career goals. Make sure your recruiter knows what these are, so they don’t to pass you up for a promising opportunity just because it didn’t match all of your criteria. 4. Get virtual-interview ready Should you get through to an interview, it will be remote for the time being – whether by phone or via video. If you are being interviewed via video link, be sure to do a practice run with your tech beforehand, set up your interview space (being aware of your background), and check with your recruiter beforehand what the company culture is so you can dress accordingly. For more on how to prepare for and ace your remote interview, download our handy video interview guide now. 5. If you get the job, you may be onboarded remotely Don’t let this phase you. Working remotely may not have been the way you intended to begin a new role, but there are things you can do to ensure you get the best possible start. Create a great home working space, log in early on your first day, ensure you understand your daily expectations and get to know your colleagues from afar via video calls. For more, read our guide on how to start a new job – at home. 6. Look after your wellbeing Job hunting during lockdown may throw up some unique new challenges, so make sure you are looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. Make sure you get some physical activity and reach out to family or friends regularly – lockdown can be a lonely and isolating experience. Try to keep a positive mindset, as this will help ensure your hunt stays on course. And remember, your recruiter is always on hand to advise about any worries you may have, even if all you want to do is have a virtual catch up. If you’re considering your next step, get in contact with one of our expert recruitment consultants for a confidential chat about the career options available to you, or to access a host of resources for helping you adapt to the new way of working, visit our Inspire ME Remotely Hub. As your lifelong career partner, we are with you every step of the way and will be updating the hub regularly with new guides, blogs and information to support you. About this author Mark joined Hays in 1985 as a trainee consultant and has been in various roles, sectors and locations during his time at Hays. He is a Board member and in 2019 his responsibilities extended to Hays Ireland.
Working from home can bring with it a number of challenges, whether they be in-home distractions or general technology frustrations. However, it can also be an isolating and even lonely experience, especially if you are new to it. So, what can you do to look after your wellbeing when working from home? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal lives, stay mentally and physically healthy whilst still being a productive and effective worker? 1. Maintain regular hours and routine: Humans are creatures of habit, so a regular schedule is important – set one, and stick to it. If you are new to home working, try to adhere to your normal office routine as much as possible. Get up, get dressed and ‘arrive’ at your desk 5 to 10 minutes early to go through emails and create your daily task list. Then, when the working day is done, log off and focus instead on your personal activities to avoid burnout. 2. Create a comfortable and clutter-free workspace: Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a study space or spare bedroom with a door, you can still create a work ‘zone’. Keep it free from clutter and away from household paraphernalia – this will help ensure you are not distracted by children or chores when you are working. Try to only work when you are in this space, creating a physical and mental boundary between your work and your personal life. 3. Be a home worker, not a lone worker: Communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone. Work out how you would like to communicate with colleagues, try not to have too many lines of communication open, as this can prove distracting, and keep in touch at regular intervals throughout the day. Whilst most communications should of course be about work, try to begin and end the day with more personal conversations. 4. Face-to-face is still best: Wherever possible, communicate with your colleagues via video chats. Face-to-face conversations help you feel more connected and are typically more engaging than conference calls. There are a wealth of technologies available to help facilitate this. Just remember to check you’re dressed appropriately and your backdrop to ensure you’re comfortable with what your co-workers will see on their screens. 5. Take a break: Like any working environment, it is important to take the occasional break to let your brain and body relax. Take a 10-minute walk, make some lunch or catch up with a friend over the phone. Short breaks will help give you the ability to refocus on your work tasks – ultimately supporting both your productivity and mental health. 6. Maintain your physical health: Eat well, sleep well and exercise well – these are the three cornerstones of good physical health, and they should not be ignored just because you are working at home. There are plenty of at home exercise tutorials online which cover the full range of ability levels – from the fittest amongst us to the athletically challenged – and serve as a great way to break up the day. Furthermore, don’t skip lunch and don’t compromise your sleep. 7. Remember to reflect: Here at Hays, we like to end each day of remote working with a team call during which we each run through a ‘win, learn and change’: something we have succeeded at, something we have learned and something we are excited to change tomorrow. Even if it’s not to other people, it’s important you take a step back and really reflect on the day. Recalling your successes and highlights whilst looking forward to the next day with optimism will help ensure a positive outlook. It can be difficult to adjust to working from home. However, if you set healthy boundaries and prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing, you can keep your morale high and continue to be a productive employee.
“I’ve never had a phone or video interview before, what if it goes wrong?” “I feel worried about the impact of the virus, what if that negatively impacts my performance?” 80% of all the thoughts we have are negative. Yes, you read that right, 80% of the 12,000-16,000 thoughts we have every day are negative. And, of course, I don’t need to tell you that this percentage has most likely risen since COVID-19 pandemic began. So, what can you do to get in the right frame of mind? Why is it SO vital to have a positive mindset before and interview? If you have a job interview coming up – which, in itself can be a stressful situation – you may be feeling more unsettled than normal, with self-limiting narratives playing in loops in your head. Plus, as the majority of us are now on ongoing lockdown, it’s almost certain that the interview will be taking place remotely, either via phone or video. Perhaps you’re worried you will have issues with the technology, further confounding the negative thoughts or concerns that are already playing on your mind. Whilst the current situation is difficult, and, of course, all of us are experiencing our own unique challenges, if you have a job interview coming up, it’s important that you try to stay focused on the job at hand. You must do everything you can to approach your interview, whether it’s a telephone or video call, with a positive and constructive mindset. Adopting a positive frame of mind will enable you to perform at your very best during the interview, in the knowledge that you’re as prepared as possible. It will also help you feel more confident, helping you to really sell yourself and your skills in an authentic way to the interviewer, even if you are doing so remotely. Simple steps to get into the right frame of mind before your job interview There are a number of steps you can take to stay optimistic and confident throughout your remote interview process: 1. Try to reframe your thought processes around remote interviews If you have a tendency to drown yourself in self-limiting thoughts, such as by telling yourself that another candidate will be better suited to the job, or that you won’t come across as well on the phone/on a video call, the chances are that your brain will start to believe this. In fact, you might not even consciously realise that you carry these self-limiting beliefs, until you check your language for phrases like “that’s impossible” or “I can’t”. Instead, reframe the way you think and try to appreciate how all of your achievements to date, taking confidence and reassurance from these. Rather than telling yourself that you won’t come across well via video, for example, think about this as being just the same as having a conversation with someone in person – the means by which you’re having that conversation are just slightly different. Remember, no one else in the interview process will have the option to meet the hiring manager in person either, so there’s no need to let the fact you’re not as experienced in telephone or video interviews put you in a negative headspace. 2. Don’t allow imposter syndrome to take hold Instead of thinking “everyone will be better than me”, remind yourself of your uniqueness and of your worth – and take that self-belief into your job interview. Many people suffer from something called imposter syndrome, an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. Essentially, this is the feeling that you have somewhat fooled others into thinking you’re better at something, or more capable, than you really are. Or, that you don’t deserve the success you’ve experienced so far. It’s quite likely that imposter syndrome is what’s making you feel like you’re perhaps not good enough for this interview, or that your success so far has just been a fluke. In fact, due to the current climate, lots of people may well be suffering from self-doubt. This might be making it more difficult to remember all the things you’ve achieved so far. But it’s so important you turn this limiting mindset on its head by telling yourself that your success is ultimately down to your own competence and effort, not luck. And even if your current responsibilities look a little different right now, all those skills and experiences you’ve built up still exist and are still part of your capabilities. In the words of Elizabeth Cox, for TED-Ed: “There’s no easy way to dismiss feelings that we’re less capable than the people around us. Intense feelings of ‘imposterism’ can prevent people from sharing their great ideas, or applying for jobs or programs where they’d excel… once you’re aware of the phenomenon, you can combat your own imposter syndrome by collecting and revisiting positive feedback.” 3. Remember to keep perspective A job interview is, of course, a very important moment in your life. It could open countless doors for you, should you be offered the job. Perhaps you’d be working for a company you absolutely love? Or it might mean you’d be moving into an industry that you’re deeply passionate about? Or, perhaps, it’d give you the opportunity to find more purpose and meaning in your work? But thinking too much about the significance of the interview itself could result in putting an unnecessary amount of pressure on yourself, therefore negatively impacting your frame of mind during your preparation – especially during this difficult time, when you’re likely to already be feeling more unsettled that usual. This, in turn, could lead to unhelpful thoughts that might affect your self-esteem and confidence. So, take a step back and think about this for what it truly is: a conversation with someone about a job you’re interested in, to get a chance for you both to get to know each other. That’s really the basics of it, so try not to get ahead of yourself and overthink its significance – just keep things in perspective. 4. Prepare, prepare and prepare again You know that old saying, “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”? It has more than a semblance of truth to it. But thorough preparation isn’t only good for improving your chances of landing the job in the first place; it’s also great for your mindset, helping you to relax in the knowledge that you have done all you can and whatever happens next is inevitable. If you feel prepared, you feel confident, and your frame of mind is therefore more likely to be positive, than negative. We have a range of material that will help with your preparation for a telephone or video interview, including: 14 ways to ensure your Skype interview is a success – outlining the key things you need to prepare for before your interview, from running test calls, to being mindful of your body language Top tips for the perfect telephone interview – your complete guide to impressing in your phone interview. This blog covers what to do before, during and after the call to help you secure the job Lights, camera, action: How to impress in your video interview – explaining how you can cater your interview style to ensure you shine just as bright over video as you do in person 5. Get psyched up Do you have a morning mantra that you tell yourself? Is there one particular song that makes you feel happy? If so, now’s the time to turn up the volume and really listen to it. You could also remind yourself of all of the amazing feats you’ve achieved in your career, or ask a friend to give you a last-minute ‘pep talk’, telling you that you have all of the qualifications and experience needed to pass this interview with flying colours. Use optimistic language towards yourself, too, such as “I’m looking forward to the interview” or “I’m sure it will go well”, asserting that this could be the opportunity of a lifetime – but that even if you don’t get the job this time, that simply means something even better is going to come along. In addition, positive self-affirmations – such as “I’m proud of myself for getting this far” or “this interview will be a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow” – don’t just make you feel good; according to a review of research literature by David Tod of Liverpool John Moore University, James Hardy of Bangor University and Emily J Oliver of Durham University, there is evidence that motivational self-talk helps to improve performance. 6. This interview, and any interview, will be an opportunity to grow Your mindset ahead of, and during your interview will be much more positive if you don’t just see it in black and white – either getting the job or not, with nothing more to be gained from the situation. After all, whether the interview goes the way you want or not, you are sure to learn something from it. If you’re living through a difficult period at the minute due to the current circumstances, I know it may seem tough to adopt this mindset. But try your best to use this interview as a learning opportunity. For example, you might even emerge from the interview with a clearer sense of what you want and don’t want from your career, and where your present strengths and weaknesses lie – and therefore, what you need to focus on next to get ahead in your career. And those are great outcomes in themselves, aren’t they? You could even view this as a chance to learn how to use unfamiliar technology, or have a professional meeting remotely – perhaps things you’ve never had to do before. All of these experiences will only help you to become a more well-rounded professional. So, even if you don’t get the job, you will still gain knowledge and more experience, which is certainly not a bad thing. Nothing’s truly a setback as long as you’ve learned something, and acknowledging this is key to developing a growth mindset. 7. Always keep communicating to your recruiter Regular and honest communication with your recruiter is very important, especially given that they are the experts in this field, and will have an existing relationship with the interviewer. Try to organise a video call with them, as this will be a good chance to test out your technology. Also, if you have any lingering doubts or uncertainties in your head about the role or interview process, a friendly conversation with your recruiter can help to dispel them, thereby improving your state of mind ahead of the big day. You might ask your recruiter questions like: “Is this a newly created position?”, “What will the structure of the interview be?” and “Do you have any tips for a telephone/video interview?” This will help you to feel as prepared and informed as possible, so that you can enter the interview with positivity, confidence and poise, able to eloquently answer whatever questions the interviewer might throw at you. Remember to speak to them after your interview too, and give them your feedback. 8. Don’t become too absorbed. Yes, it’s important to prepare well for any job interview, but even when an interview is looming, you should still have plenty to enjoy away from the world of work. So, don’t hesitate to continue with any hobbies and interests that will help you to keep perspective and blow off some steam. In fact, Nir Eyal, writing for Psychology Today, has highlighted the many positive benefits that such distractions can have on our lives. For instance, something as simple as a puzzle or video game can be great for boosting both our self-efficacy and confidence in overcoming problems. Other distractions can also strengthen our ability to tackle new challenges, an upcoming job interview potentially being just one. Research has found that even simply spending time walking outside, for example, can reduce stress and improve cognitive function. If your current government restrictions mean that you cannot go for a walk outside, an activity like yoga or meditation will help you to achieve the same reduce in stress, and ensure you stay present in the moment, rather than overthinking and worrying about the bigger picture. 9. Finally, remember to be a bit excited! At the end of the day, a job interview is a great opportunity to be introduced to new people and could open the door to taking the next exciting step in your career. Now is the time, too, to think about all of the things that attracted you to this role, including what it would be like to do the job itself, and the opportunities it could open up for you. Allowing yourself to feel excited, and visualising what it will feel like to work in this new role, will help you to feel more confident and maintain a positive mindset throughout your preparation. The power of a positive mindset in a job interview All of the tools and advice above will help have you have your interview with a positive and constructive mindset. Although we’re living through testing times, there is reason to be positive – after all, you’re most likely reading this article because you have an interview lined up. So well done! It’s now up to you to decide which approach is going to have the best consequences for you. Will you prepare for the interview thinking: “I’m so nervous”, “I hope they like me”, or “What if they ask impossible questions?” Or will you instead affirm to yourself that you are capable and prepared for success? The power of a positive mindset really could make all the difference during this interview. You’ll feel confidence in the fact that you deserve to be there, with the knowledge that you stand just as much chance as anyone else of being offered the job. With this positive mindset in place, you will also be able to enjoy your interview more and portray your authentic self from start to finish – a person who is confident, articulate and fully deserving of this wonderful opportunity. Ultimately, that’s who you are, so don’t doubt for a moment that you are anything else.
There are any number of definitions for resilience, most of which refer to the ability to 'bounce back from adversity' and 'withstand stressful situations'. However, you can only do it so many times before you are exhausted and no longer have the resources to cope. If you’re finding it hard to stay calm during the coronavirus outbreak, here are some tips for emotional resilience to help you cope with the pandemic, including reframing and self-care. What is resilience? Sometimes resilience is about recognising the approach of the difficult situation(s) and doing something about it before things escalate to the point of a stress response, and sometimes it's just about stopping whatever it is you are doing and re-evaluating. In the same way that a physically healthy person has a better chance of recovering from injury or illness, someone who is mentally healthy will be better placed to recover from difficult, stressful and traumatic situations and this is resilience. "A good half of the art of living is resilience". Alain de Botton In simple terms, psychological resilience is about developing behaviours and habits which help you to remain calm and to move forward without any negative consequences. Of course, being resilient doesn't mean that you will never feel the pressure or stress of a particular situation or event, but it does mean that you will be in a better position and have effective ways of dealing with it. Building your resilience Every one of us can increase our resilience, all you need is to be prepared to try. Things won't change overnight, but with determination and practice you can develop a new healthier way of thinking and behaving, increasing your resilience and improving your chances of remaining mentally healthy and staying calm and confident in difficult times. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 1. Evaluate your situation Ask yourself: Could there be another way of looking at this? Do I need more information? How will I benefit from the way I am thinking/feeling/doing? We all have a tendency towards negativity, called negativity bias. So ask yourself, how else could I interpret this event? What is the evidence for and against this thought? How might things improve if I adopt a different interpretation? 2. Rest We all know how important it is to our physical and mental health to get a good night's sleep. Current advice suggests 7 – 9 hours for the majority of adults. Sleep improves cognition, concentration, productivity and performance, it maximises problem solving skills and improves memory. Rest isn't just about sleep. Around every 90 minutes take breaks away from your desk, your computer, your phone. Research shows that brief (as little as 5 minutes) mental breaks will help you stay focussed on your task, help you to retain information, make connections and generally be more productive. Not taking breaks leads to confusion, increased pressure and eventually stress. 3. Stay hydrated Your brain is mostly water, so drinking it provides you with a number of benefits, it: Helps to balance your mood and emotions Reduces stress Maintains memory function Improves concentration and cognition 4. Reflect on your successes/achievements Keep a success diary, write down the things you have achieved, that have gone well for you today or this week. The more we reflect on the positive, the more positive we become. You could even reward yourself in some way or simply tell yourself well done. 5. Practice Mindfulness Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. It improves mental health and functioning and increases emotion regulation and self-control. CABA have an online mindfulness for beginners course you can access here. 6. Ask for help It is a sign of strength to know when you need help and be able to ask for it. CABA offer free confidential counselling. Other support may be available through your organisation or check out the BACP website for a counsellor near you. And finally… Practice resilience rather than inaction. Use some of the ideas above and persevere to make them a habit rather than your habit becoming one of living with stress. Resilient people live longer, happier, healthier lives. CABA provide lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members. If you’re worried about the impact of the coronavirus on you and your family, find out how CABA can support you.
Following the latest government advice, many of us will already or soon be working from home for the foreseeable future. For those who aren’t used to working remotely, this can be a particularly disruptive experience and may require some time to adjust. Some people initially enjoy the idea of not having to leave the house in the morning, but may soon find the comforts of home distracting, leading to a loss of productivity. Despite the initial teething issues, studies have found that over 77% of professionals say they feel more productive when working remotely, and an additional 30% feel as though they accomplish more in a shorter period of time. So, what is the best advice for people working from home? Create a work environment of your own In order to get into a ‘work’ frame of mind when you’re at home, it’s important to have a space set aside which is designated for working. This helps to create a clear distinction between ‘work’ and ‘play’ and trains your brain to be more productive during work hours. Not only does this allow you to concentrate more on the task at hand, it also makes it easier to switch off at the end of the day. If you don’t have a study you can use, the kitchen or dining room table is often a good place to set up. If you share the space with other people, make sure you communicate clearly to them that you are working and set clear boundaries around your work schedule. Finally, avoid the temptation to work from your bedroom or the couch, as these can trigger the brain into thinking it is time to sleep or relax. Avoid those distractions In your own home it can be so easy to get distracted by your surroundings. This makes it difficult to switch off from household chores or slipping into weekend habits. If you find yourself getting distracted on a regular basis, it can help to set yourself a clear list of deadlines and hold yourself to account for meeting them all. Avoid switching on the TV, and instead put on the radio or a calming playlist. This will provide some background noise for those who don’t enjoy the silence. Combat the loneliness If you’re the only person working from home, the long hours by yourself can often leave you feeling isolated and lonely. Whilst instant messaging apps mean you can communicate to your colleagues whenever, it’s never the same as having face-to-face interaction. If you can, try using video calls with colleagues and clients wherever possible, as this provides a more social experience than sending emails or texts. This will play a key role in tackling feelings of isolation over the next few months as many people could be working from home for the foreseeable future. But be aware that faulty technology can sometimes lead to lagging and frustrating meetings, so make sure you give yourself enough time to set up and get ready before the call. Cultivate compassion for yourself and others around you For those self-isolating or working at home with a partner, your family, or your housemate, it’s important to be mindful of your own needs and the needs of others. Spending long periods of time in a shared space can be tricky, but there are ways around this that will make it easier to maintain healthy relationships. Talk to each other, be open and honest, and make a plan together that takes into account everyone’s needs. You're less likely to experience feelings of resentment if you’re communicating clearly. By talking to one another and addressing any issues as they happen, you can express how you feel and talk about the challenges you may be facing. If you need more space to work or think, explain why this is important to you, and work on a solution together. It might help to start by telling them how much they mean to you and reminding them that you care. It can be difficult to maintain a work-life blend when the lines between work and home are blurred into one. Make sure you stick to your working hours and try not to let work infiltrate your evenings or weekends. It might sound silly but having a good morning routine and wearing ‘work’ clothes, or just not your pyjamas, can help to create a professional mind-set. Ultimately, you need to find a way of working that serves you and results in the least amount of disruption. Be kind to yourself while you find a new rhythm and allow yourself enough time to adjust. CABA provide lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members. If you’re worried about the impact of the coronavirus on you and your family, find out how CABA can support you.
Video interviews are now a necessity and they need to be taken seriously if you want to impress a prospective employer and secure a new role. For some, the perceived lack of real interpersonal interaction during a video interview can be a cause for anxiety. Body language accounts for a large part of communication, and without it the ability to express ourselves decreases significantly. It’s important that you counter this and other unconventional aspects of a video interview by making all the necessary adjustments to your interview style. Here are three tips for you to follow: 1. Have everything ready in good time Technology is a consideration that is mostly unique to video interviews. Make sure you don’t have any embarrassing technical difficulties by installing the necessary programs and software in good time – and that you also know what to do if it goes wrong. Test your connection and video software plenty of times beforehand by making some practice calls to check sound and picture quality. Your interviewer will likely have a busy schedule and won’t be very impressed if you have to keep re-dialling in. A good recruitment consultant will help you prepare for the interview and advise you on the kind of questions you are likely to be asked, but it’s really up to you to make sure the technology doesn’t falter. For video interviews dress formally, even if you are doing the interview from your living room; you should dress as you would to go to an employer’s head office. Find a tidy, uncluttered place to do the interview; you want to make sure that you’ve removed all non-pertinent objects from the frame. 2. Get comfortable with the technology It’s important that you’re comfortable looking into a camera and speaking into a microphone. Looking into the camera is important to make eye contact with the interviewer, while speaking clearly into the microphone is helpful for avoiding repetition. Remember also to avoid the temptation of looking at your own image on the screen! Don’t forget to smile too. Smiling goes a very long way to building rapport and, while you may not think it, can even be recognised down a phone line. Listen carefully to the questions your interviewer is asking you. There may be a delay over video calling or network connection and if you get stuck on a question, ask if you can move on and come back to this when you have gathered your thoughts. Silences can be difficult when you aren’t in the same room so try to avoid them. You can help minimise awkward pauses by rehearsing with a family member or friend; this will help you predict possible delays that the technology might have. 3. Project confidence and stay calm During a video interview, it can be difficult to show the usual body language that demonstrates you are listening and shows you are interested and enthusiastic, so be sure to also convey this in what you say, while remaining aware of your movements. Asking questions is always positive so make sure you have some up your sleeve. Remaining professional, staying relaxed and keeping calm will help you to answer the questions accurately. Where video interviews may cause a delay in the flow of conversation, it is best to wait and ensure your interviewer has finished their question to stop any confusion and keep your interview on track. You can help with this too, by ensuring your answers are clear and concise. If your interviewer wants more information, they will ask you to elaborate. Confidence is even more of a decisive factor in video interviews than it is during regular face-to-face interviews. Without the encouragement of your self-assured body language, the interviewer might have difficulty getting a read on you. Leave them in no doubt about your belief in your own ability by communicating confidently at all times. A final thought However well prepared you are, remember that there may be factors beyond your control when using technology and video calling software which can disrupt the call, break signal or lose connection. In this instance, it is best to regain connection and restart the call, and quickly contact your interviewer to update them so you can all continue with the interview as soon as possible. They’ll understand it is out of your control so try not to worry and keep your composure. If you’re considering your next step, get in contact with one of our expert recruitment consultants for a confidential chat about the career options available to you. Alternatively, check out our latest career advice. About this author Karen is a Director and recruiting expert at Hays Accountancy & Finance. She provides strategic leadership to a team of 400 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across 100 UK offices. With 20 years of finance recruitment experience, Karen has a track record of recruiting top finance talent for businesses across a range of industry sectors, and is a trusted industry voice on career planning and market insights.