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Our aim is simple: we seek to help make your career goals become a reality.

Momentum Careers Advice is an independent information, advice and guidance consultancy based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and offering services across the UK and beyond.

Read What is involved in a careers consultation?

consultationA careers consultation with Momentum Careers Advice is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ service. It is a client-led process which is moulded to your particular circumstances and career issues.  Anyone can book a consultation – my clients include young people, students, recent graduates, experienced professionals, and work place returners.  Of these, some will have a clear idea on the type of career they want, whereas others may need help generating these ideas or providing clarity on what it is they want to do.

It is important also to understand that a career consultation doesn’t necessarily need to focus on career or educational choice.  For many clients, the process is a useful opportunity to talk through a tricky work situation or perhaps discuss strategies for accessing the job market.  You name it, I’ve probably dealt with it.  But what is common in each instance is the opportunity for a client to verbalise their issues in an impartial and non-judgemental environment, and to start the process of working towards change.

What qualifies you to do this for me?

I qualified as a careers adviser (QCG, PgDip Guidance) in 2002 so have well over 10 years’ experience of helping people move forward towards their personal career goals.  Prior to qualifying as a careers adviser, I worked as an in-house recruiter with experience both in the private (corporate) and public sectors so I have some very real and practical experience of understanding the job market and how employers select candidates.

If you still need more convincing, you’ll find some great testimonials on my website from past clients.

What format will the consultation take?

Your careers consultation is essentially a two part process.  Firstly, we spend an hour talking through your particular situation and issues.  This can be done face to face in St Albans, Hertfordshire, or via Skype, so your location need not be an issue.  Secondly, in the days following your consultation I will email you a detailed summary and action plan.  This is a reflective document that will cover some of the themes of our discussion, and which will set out a series of small action points for you to complete, to help you move your situation forwards.

I am a firm believer that this document is a vital part of the consultation process that I offer.  It is the part that turns ideas into actions and should help to provide the momentum you need to start working towards positive changes.

What if I prefer a more analytical approach to careers guidance?

As a qualified administrator of the Morrisby careers guidance services, I can offer you the option to precede your careers consultation with a psychometric testing package which is accredited by the British Psychology Society. The results of this will give you an objective insight into your skill set and will even combine this with information on your own likes and preferences to suggest some career options to you. This can make a great starting point for our careers discussion to follow.

How many consultations will I need?

Again, this will be dependent upon your own situation. For many people, one is all that is needed but others prefer to work more thoroughly over a number of sessions. Before your first consultation, I ask that you fill in a quick questionnaire which gives me some basic background to your situation.  This allows me to plan how I can best work with you but, of course, the ultimate decision on how many consultations you book is entirely up to you.

What do I need to do to book a consultation?

Simple – just email me at info@momentumcareersadvice.com and explain a little bit about your situation, your availability and whether you would like a traditional consultation or the additional psychometric testing option. I can take the rest from there.

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An initial consultation with Momentum Careers Advice costs just £60 (£95 including the Morrisby Online testing service). 

 

Read 10 prompting questions to get you started with your UCAS personal statement

Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at Starting Block

Most people would agree that the hardest part of constructing a UCAS personal statement is getting started. And the longer your leave it, inevitably, the harder it gets. Much of this is due to the pressures we put on ourselves to produce something perfect and yet aiming for perfection on a first draft is unrealistic.

My solution to this is simple – start putting pen to paper as soon as you can. Having something to work with, no matter how unpolished it is, will allow you to see just how and where you need to improve. Keeping things in our heads, on the other hand, are likely to cause anxiety and further procrastination.

If you find yourself in this position, honest written answers to the following questions will start the journey of allowing your personal statement to take shape.

How did your interest in this subject develop?

Everyone’s story here is different, so what is yours? Was your interest ignited through something you read, something you heard or something you experienced?  Be honest. If you’re not honest it will sound disingenuous.

How can you prove you have gone out of your way to research the subject further?

To want to take this subject to degree level you need to show how this interest has developed. So what exactly have you done – further reading, research, open days?

Looking forwards, what particular elements of the subject are most appealing?

Can you show that you understand some of the breadth of what you will be expected to study during your time at university? Are there particular specialisms or module topics that appeal and can you say why this is?

Why is it important that people study this subject?

Are you able to see the ‘bigger picture relevance’ of this subject? What impact does it have on society and on how we live our lives? Can you give any newsworthy examples of this?

In terms of your recent education, can you talk about a piece of work or research that you found particularly interesting?

University staff want to teach interesting, and interested, students. Giving them evidence of a time when you have enthusiastically approached academic challenges in the past will help to do this.

What particular study skills have you gained from your recent subjects?

Remember, not every subject has to be relevant to your future studies. But you should be able to identify the transferable benefits that have come from your studies to date, whether that is critical thinking, structuring arguments or using creativity, to name but a few examples.

Have you gained any work experience (relevant or otherwise to your degree) and what has this taught you about yourself?

It is important to be reflective here. A personal statement showing a list of what you did will be much less impressive than one that shows how the experiences have shaped or challenged your perceptions about the world of work, and how you may fit within it.

What are your current career ideas?

If you are applying to a strongly vocational course then this is definitely something you will need to be able to show that you have thought about. What research have you done? What particular careers or working environments interest you? (NB – don’t over worry this if your course is purely academic – remember that this is a course application and not a job interview).

What additional responsibilities have you taken on, either in or outside of school?

Everyone likes a proactive student who goes out of their way to acquire more skills. But again, this question is about being reflective about your experiences rather than simply listing what you did. Extra-curricular interests can also help to add individuality to a personal statement.

What aspects of university life are you most looking forward to?

University is about personal development as well as academic development so think broadly here. Answering this question honestly should help to reveal positivity and a ‘can do, will do’ attitude.

I’m not suggesting that your answers to these questions will, or should, form your complete and finished statement. Rather this is an exercise in brainstorming ideas and getting the ball rolling. From these answers you should then be able to identify exactly which information is most relevant to your application (it won’t all be) and identify the areas that can be taken to a greater depth. There may also be further work that needs to be done on ordering your statement in a way that flows and makes sense. So, it won’t be perfect and it won’t give you the finished article, but the important thing is that by tackling these relevant questions head on, you are making a start.

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Don’t forget that Momentum Careers Advice offers a personal statement review service for just £45.  Email info@momentumcareersadvice.com if interested or read my blog post “What is involved in a UCAS personal statement review?

If you want to browse through the other blog posts that I’ve written on the subject of UCAS applications then please click on this link.

Read Why I am in favour of a bit of career-hopping.

career hoppingThere is a dangerous careers myth that exists in society and that just won’t go away – the myth that the most successful people are those who know what they want to do from an early age and pursue their end goal with tunnel vision. Of course, for some people this ‘all or nothing’ approach to career planning works out just fine. But there are many reasons why it may not and why the true achievers, when it comes to work-related success, may well be those who have tried a few things along the way.

The last few decades have seen immense shifts in the careers landscape; the death of the ‘job for life’ and the consequent rise in job insecurity, the impact of monumental technological advances, and the emergence of a truly global job market to name but a few reasons for this. And yet the ‘gold standard’ for achievement still seems to be routed in the type of careers progression that is associated with generations before. People – there is a big wide professional world out there waiting to be explored. With this in mind, what circumstances may lead to a bit of justified career-hopping?

Still working out who you are

The pressure on young people these days is immense. In order to get the pick of the graduate jobs you are pretty much expected to have gained significant career-relevant experience throughout your time at university. As the necessity of internships increases, students are being forced earlier and earlier to make life affirming career decisions. And yet the ability to make the right choices, in my opinion, depends on a mature level of self-awareness coupled with a substantial knowledge of the reality of the world of work – of which your average 20 year old may well have neither. There is a good argument, therefore, suggesting that the best way to spend your first few years of work is simply to try a few different things and work out which fits best.

Career familiarity breeds contempt

Career fatigue can be a dangerous thing. Not only can it lead to boredom, but this can develop into underperformance and, ultimately, loss of professional confidence. And long gone are the days when all recruiters necessarily value the candidate who has stuck with the same company and/or work specialism for 15 years; in the absence of significant promotion it can make a worker appear staid and unambitious whereas change may be seen as evidence of a dynamic and adaptable employee.  Sometimes the right thing to do is to try something new and breathe a bit of fresh air back into your working life, whether that is through internal opportunities or through a bigger, braver, leap into the unknown.

Circumstances change. We change!

How many of us can say we are the same person at 30/40/50 that we were at 20? For sure, our knowledge and experience will have grown but our priorities are also evolving. Perhaps the need for a fat pay cheque has been replaced by a desire to be part of a bigger societal contribution? Perhaps two decades in the work place have taught us that we need more autonomy or challenge than we are being given?  Perhaps our needs as a parent, a spouse, a carer… have had an impact on what is now important. In anyone’s career journey – whether they largely satisfied or not – it can be a good idea to do a regular audit of your career values to see how your current role matches up to them and, perhaps, what needs to be different.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having goals. There will always be people for whom their true vocation is identified early on and it all works out fine and dandy. But by asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and continuing to push the idea of ‘one career for life’ are we missing the point of what career success is all about? What happens, for example, when this dream isn’t achieved or if the working reality is disappointing? It is so important that our clients can understand that this doesn’t signify failure and that the ability to pick themselves up and start something new – something more relevant – is success in itself.  This requires a brand of guidance that focuses on ongoing career planning not on one single decision. Perhaps the best way we can really help is to ensure that we are equipping our clients with the professional agility needed to successfully traverse the changing career landscape according to their own changing needs.

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Momentum Careers Advice is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire but works with clients, via skype, throughout the UK and beyond. Initial careers consultations cost £60. Mock interviews cost £50.

Read Wanna jump ship? Think before you leap.

jumping shipBeing unhappy at work is never fun. There are 101 genuine reasons why leaving a company behind and looking for new opportunities is the right thing to do. But, similarly, it isn’t always the right thing to do.

Work dissatisfaction can hit us from a number of different angles; lack of challenge, toxic working environments, limited career progression opportunities to name but a few. And in the same way that the circumstances are always different in each individual case, so are the solutions to the problem. And yet, so often when we find ourselves in this situation, it is easy to be overpowered by a knee-jerk reaction which yells “LEAVE” at the top of its voice.

Whilst in most (but certainly not all) cases, the decision to leave a company is best implemented when that individual has another job to go to, there is thinking that needs to happen before this new job search even starts. Put simply, we are not always very good at exploring ways of improving our current work situation yet this is often where the best solutions for career improvements lie.

Position yourself better

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve worked with clients whose work unhappiness stems from one individual. Bullying and undermining the work of others is, sadly, rife and often, I will add, a reflection on the bully’s own work underperformance. If you are in this situation, try and position yourself away from this person. Form allies. Restrict (if you can) the contact you have with them. Subtle shifts can make a big difference. If this is a colleague rather than a superior, speak to your line manager who may well be aware of the situation and can address the situation in a way they feel fit. If your nemesis is the line manager, then speak to HR. You may not be the first person to voice these concerns.

Set yourself new challenges                                                     

Boredom at work can lead to a lack of professional confidence and even depression. Stagnation can be hard to climb out from, but do it by setting yourself new challenges. Think back to your happier times within the organisation. What made them better for you? How can you emulate that now? Sitting back and doing nothing is unlikely to improve your situation. Start being the master of your own destiny.

Remember – your boss isn’t telepathic

Line managers are often the first accused in these situation and, in many cases, rightly so. But they are not mind-readers so unless you voice your concerns, or clarify your ambitions to get involved in new things, they can’t really be blamed. Take the initiative to book a meeting to discuss how you are feeling. Sometimes there are solutions but nobody has joined the dots properly or verbalised their needs. You want training? Ask for it. You want to get involved in a new project that is coming up within the department? Speak up! Your boss is likely to be so bogged down with their own concerns that, without this, change is unlikely to happen.

Seek out opportunities

Networking isn’t just something that happens when you are looking to move companies. It should be an ongoing part of your career within an organisation.  Career dissatisfaction can be challenged and overcome by, for example, a change of team or a completely new role within a new department. So network hard within your organisation and seek out the people who are well positioned to help you. It is always a good idea to find yourself a mentor – preferably someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and has useful links and authority within the company. This could be your route to positive change.

So, while leaving for pastures new may seem appealing, staying put but shifting the conditions of your work can often be easier and perhaps more beneficial in the future. Personal experiences within a company can often be a rollercoaster of good and not-so-good times. Learning effective coping strategies for when times are tough may just help you to ride out the storm and see it through to the other side.

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Momentum Careers Advice is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire but works with clients, via skype, throughout the UK and beyond. Initial careers consultations cost £60. Mock interviews cost £50.

Read Interviews for introverts – tips for success

thinkerLet’s face it, even the most outwardly confident of candidates can be floored by the intensity of an interview situation. But couple this with a general dislike for small talk, and a preference for listening rather than speaking, and it is easy to see why many introverts would rather be anywhere else.

As the wife of an introvert and the mother of another, I may be biased but I know very well just how brilliant they can be, and how important it is not to write off introverts as inferior to their more conversational counterparts. However, society’s general need for everyone to be all-singing, all-dancing, all-talking means that the very essence of introversion is misunderstood by so many and even treated with suspicion. And this is where the problem lies. It is often nothing that the candidate is doing wrong themselves but a badly trained interviewer may fail to see their skills and be left questioning their ability to make the right impact. Thus, it is up to the candidate to do what they can to open up the mind-set of the decision maker. There are a number of ways of ensuring this happens.

Prepare for small talk

Because there is simply no escaping it. Have a think about how you will respond to general chit-chat. An unwillingness to engage never does anyone any favours and we know how important those first impressions are. It may be helpful to prepare a nice succinct and relevantly focused answer to the question ‘Tell me about yourself’ as this is (ironically) used by many interviewers as a gentle introduction point to the interview. However, it can be a real stalling point if it catches you off-guard.

Choose your words wisely

Introverts tend not to be attention seekers and may struggle, through words and actions, to create the same sense of enthusiasm that their extrovert counterparts so easily embrace. So if you can’t make the big enthusiastic gestures, make sure you are using positive language to describe the work that you do. Show your emotions through words – don’t be afraid to talk about loving a particular part of your job or being proud of your accomplishments. Be achievement focused throughout. Presenting successes with pure quantifiable facts may come easier and should be considered as a guaranteed way of making a good impression.

Own (and sell) your introversion

Addressing upfront the fact that you are a ‘deep thinker’ or a ‘good listener’, for example, not only shows you are self-aware and under no pretences but also gives you a great introduction from which you can start marketing the positives that this approach can bring to an organisation. “Being relatively introverted, I find this works in my favour in management situations as I’m prepared to sit back and listen to the views of the team around me….” Use observations from colleagues to back up your arguments “The feedback I’ve received at work is that I’m very supportive and naturally find it easy to assume a mentoring role…..” This will help to convince even the most cynical interviewer of your effectiveness.

Play to your strengths

And there are many. Introverts are usually fastidious planners and will arrive at an interview well prepared with all the information they need to succeed. Take time to listen to questions and use silence to gather your thoughts. (We’ve all been in situations where the extrovert candidate has been so afraid of silence that they have cantered off on a tangent and missed the point entirely. This will never be you). Use your strong powers of reflection and thoughtfulness to pinpoint examples that are most relevant to the questions, and present them in a calm and logical way.

I should end this by saying that not all introverts dislike interviews and, certainly, I am not implying that all introverts struggle with interview performance. Rather that there may be extra hurdles to overcome which need some thinking around. Taking the time to do this will ensure you are able to give it your best.

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Momentum Careers Advice is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire but works with clients, via skype, throughout the UK and beyond. Initial careers consultations cost £60. Mock interviews cost £50.