Recently we welcomed Sarah Rees from Career Woman Wales to give a Milkshake talk on ‘Future Proofing your Career’.

‘Like a Feather on the Wind’. And no, this isn’t an Elton John lyric.

Sarah started by describing most people’s relationship with career planning as ‘being like a feather on the wind’. It’s almost always reactive instead of proactive.

Forces are acting on you, whether it’s redundancy, pregnancy or the need to care for an elder. These forces are moving you whether you want them to or not.

She emphasized the need for — ‘you to become the driver, you should be setting the focus and you should be in charge of your career path’.

Post-it notes, lots and lots of post-it notes.

The first exercise saw Sarah pose 5-questions and then invited each of us to stick our post-it note on the board. The five questions were:

  1. Why I’ve come to this workshop today …
  2. When I was a child I wanted to be …
  3. A job I loved …
  4. My dream job is …
  5. … is stopping me from doing my dream job

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

Your dream career isn’t going to land in your lap; you need to keep pushing and challenging yourself to find that dream career.

Stand Out – Your Personal Brand.

In the next exercise Sarah asked people for their immediate impressions of the individuals whose pictures flashed up on screen.

  1. J.K. Rowling
  2. Katie Hopkins
  3. Richard Branson
  4. Katie Price / AKA: Jordan

I’m not going to repeat some of the words mentioned about number 2. But needless to say this sparked some lively debate.

The point of the exercise was that people will form ideas and impressions about you from a number of clues so it’s good to be aware of them.

How you dress, your body language, your choice of words and your manners to name but a few.

Sarah asked the group to think about how we want to be portrayed and how we’d like others to see us as this can be very important when considering your career.

Nobel Intentions.

In 1888, when a person by the name of Ludwig Nobel passed-away, French newspapers confused him with his younger brother Alfred — the famed Swedish entrepreneur and inventor. This gave Alfred Nobel a unique look at how he would be remembered.

To widespread astonishment, Nobel’s last will ( 1895 ) specified that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who contribute the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

We remember Alfred Nobel for the ‘The Nobel Prize‘. Not bad for someone who invented dynamite!

This story serves to illustrate that it’s never too late to start doing what you want, being who you want to be.

Sarah ended the session by sharing some of her favourite tips for building a career plan.

  1. Ask others how they got their job – especially those who do something you admire, many people are only too happy to help.
  2. Who are your current contacts and how can they help you.
  3. Where are the opportunities – don’t just look on the job websites there are a myriad of other opportunities out there.
  4. Get involved – volunteer with your dream organisation, attend their events, meet their people.
  5. Make time – it isn’t going to happen overnight and like we said earlier it’s unlikely to land in your lap. Think of it like a hobby and keep working at it, refine your CV, build networks or look for opportunities a little at a time.
  6. Research – When going to an interview most people will research the organisation but it’s important to research your CV and yourself too. Are your skills up to date; do your experiences match the role you’re going for; have you had any relevant training?
  7. Attitude – Try going into the interview with the mind-set that you’re interviewing them, you’re seeing if they fit with your career plan and your values and ethos not the other way round.

Sarah is the founding director of Career Women Wales, a social enterprise that provides training to empower women to visualise their career goals and create plans to achieve them.

If you think you’d benefit from any of the services they provide you can get in contact with Career Women Wales: