Careers

Careers

Orla Doyle outlines the job search activities that reap the biggest reward. The Pareto principle states that 80% of outcomes are borne from 20% of the causes. It is one of the cardinal philosophies in business that ultimately guides business leaders in selecting the most productive inputs to drive maximum efficiency. However, this principle can be applied in many settings, including in the job search. See how you can harness the benefits of the 80/20 rule in your job search strategy to target the right company, the right culture, the right management team, and help you get a job you love. Wasted time The job market is a fickle beast, where the amount of effort you put in doesn’t necessarily correlate with the results you get. Working smart rather than working hard is vital. For instance, many people spend a significant amount of time tweaking their CVs and cover letters. While it is important to spend time on this, people often spend too much time, with any subsequent additions unlikely to move the needle. Interestingly, the majority of job seekers choose the job site route to apply for new jobs. Don’t get me wrong; job sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor are great tools to use when searching for a new job. However, churning out 10-20 applications per day on one of these sites is a lot of work that won’t necessarily yield the results you want. The truth is, nobody taught us how to look for our dream job. Most people don’t have a real strategy and as a result, everyone ends up doing the same thing. There are better ways to conduct your job search. It may require stepping outside your comfort zone, but it will ultimately raise your chances of making the right next step for your career. Both approaches described above are passive. There are more downsides to this than the time spent sitting back and waiting for an answer. In many cases, applicants later find that the job isn’t what they wanted or that compensation is too low or, in the worst-case scenario, they get no response whatsoever. Over time, this leads applicants to conclude that the job market is unfavourable, and they adopt a negative mindset. If you have been cranking out a large volume of applications daily without much luck, then you need a catalyst – a change in mindset, approach or methodology that places you on the path to career success. The psychology of spending time on inefficient job search tactics When you read the above, a fair question may be: “Why do people choose to put themselves through that?” The most common answer is that it helps people feel productive. Sending out ten applications a day across four job sites may not be the optimal way to land an interview, but at the end of the day, it helps the sender feel that they have done something or that they have put adequate effort into the job search. It’s a flawed perception, but a satisfactory outcome nevertheless for most job seekers. The other reason is that most people love passing the responsibility to someone else. The thought process here may be that if they want you, they will come back to you; if you spoke with a recruiter, they will come back to you when a relevant role comes in. In a competitive and globalised job market, though, this is rare. With the advent of technology, talent is now available across borders and the labour pool is larger than ever. Hence, if candidates are not accountable for their job search, it is an uphill battle to find suitable employment as hiring managers are likely looking at a dozen profiles that are similar or even identical to yours. To achieve success, you must be willing to do what the others won’t to achieve what they can’t. Applying the 80/20 principle So, what are the things that most people don’t do? Below are three things that you can inculcate in your job search. 1. Get specific Do you know what you want to do or, are you merely seeing what you can get? After some rejection, many people throw in the towel too early and start working their way down in terms of the jobs they are willing to accept. To prevent this from happening, get specific about the type of job you want, the size and the culture of the company, and the particular industry in which you would like to work. And then, do not deviate from that. Do you know the types of companies that hire for these jobs, the exact ones for whom you would like to work? Once you have this clarity, you will automatically be inclined to work harder to source those types of jobs and apply accordingly. You will increase your chance of getting results as your whole approach – from your CV to your references – is streamlined for the position you want. This is not to say that you should be rigid in your job search and operate within this one defined box. It is merely a tip to ensure that you are not aborting the search for your dream job before the appropriate efforts have been expended. Second, get specific about the goals of the particular job search tactic you are using. If it doesn’t work, stop and try a different channel. Many people continue to do an activity without ever stopping and asking: is this working? They adopt the attitude of “try harder” rather than analysing the results of a particular method. Set yourself a goal. For example, aim to secure five interviews through a specific channel. This could be achieved by utilising three different recruiters – but if it isn’t working, stop and take a fresh approach. 2. Network Relationships go a long way in the job market. The best jobs are often snapped up before they are even advertised on a public platform because the candidate had a good relationship with the hiring manager (or at least someone that knew them). A CV is a piece of paper that outlines your experiences at a high level. But, if you can have a conversation with someone where you articulate your expertise and ambitions, they now have a ‘face to the name’ on the CV and can understand your value proposition at a more holistic level. Start by developing a networking strategy (i.e. identify who can help you get to where you want to go and go to them directly). Other people won’t even know what they are looking for, making it impossible to know whom they need to talk to, or what they need to ask. As with all things, practice makes perfect – but it all starts with the first step. 3. Show, don’t tell The next time you have an interview, add an additional dimension to your preparation. Try to understand some of the problems the company or unit you are applying to is facing, and formulate a solution. This could involve producing a one-page document at interview, which outlines what you would do in the first 30, 60 and 90 days in the job to remedy the situation. Make no mistake: this is much easier said than done. However, a lot of successful applicants employ presentation materials where they can demonstrate what they bring to the table. Words are easy to say but tough to back up. Hence, if a hiring manager can concurrently see your work along with your words, you are automatically better than almost anyone else competing with you for the same job.   Orla Doyle is Head of Marketing at Lincoln Recruitment Specialists.

Apr 01, 2020
Careers

Dr Annette Clancy lays the ground rules for a successful spell of remote working. The work restrictions and social distancing introduced by the Government in response to COVID-19 may prove to be a watershed moment for flexible/remote working. The immediate shut-down of many workplaces forced hundreds of companies and thousands of workers to get creative about how to work and deliver services to clients and customers while observing public health protocols. As many are finding out, however, working from home presents a whole new set of challenges. So, how can we make flexible/remote working work? Keep going to work Not everyone has a home office or even their own room. Yet, you must still go to work. First, acknowledge the change in your work situation. It is not the same as going to the office. You may, for example, have to juggle childcare so be realistic about what you can achieve given the current circumstances. Discuss this with your employer and work around it for the time being. Then go to work. This is as much psychological as it is physical. Your home is an obstacle course of exciting activities, which throw themselves into your path before a deadline looms. Laundry, dish-washing, reorganising books (by colour, author or topic?) all seem to take on an urgency previously unheard of as the clock ticks closer to the dreaded deadline. You must defend yourself against this distraction before you begin. Create a workspace at home. This could be as simple as defining part of the kitchen table as the place where you put your laptop, phone charger and papers. Keep this clear of all other personal items. When you sit down at this space, you are at work; when you leave, you are at home. Maintaining this boundary is essential, otherwise work and home will become blurred. This is important when you work from home because it’s easy for work to bleed into your personal (psychological and social) life and before you know it, you are on your computer at 11pm and again at 7.30am. Keep communication channels open People go to work for myriad reasons. Obviously, there is the work itself, but we also develop our sense of identity through work; we make friends and develop relationships (some life-long). These relationships can feel threatened when we are no longer close to our work colleagues. People who work at home (even those who are used to it) can feel isolated and lonely. If your business uses technology such as Slack, Google Hangouts or Skype, for example, these are probably your go-to communication tools. But if not, it’s crucial to build in times when you check-in with your colleagues by phone, text or WhatsApp – whatever method works for your group of colleagues. Managers who have no experience of managing teams remotely will need to take particular care to check-in with their people as it is easy to lose contact in a remote working context. Keep things normal Social distancing can quickly turn into social isolation unless we keep some semblance of normality. We may not be able to go to the pub on a Friday with friends or go out to dinner with colleagues, but we can organise ‘virtual coffee dates’ or ‘remote lunches’ using Skype, Zoom or Facetime. This means organising specific times to be together online, but away from work. Of course, it isn’t the same as being in the same room. And yes, it’s a bit ‘weird’. But the main point here is to maintain social contact to ensure that workers do not succumb to loneliness, and for managers to engage in non-work conversation with their colleagues. Once you crack it, we may look back on this time as the research and development phase of a new way of working. Dr Annette Clancy is Assistant Professor at UCD School of Art, History and Cultural Policy.

Apr 01, 2020
Careers

A recent Irish Accounting and Finance Association (IAFA) workshop on teaching and learning accounting at third-level tackled some unpalatable truths to create a vision for an undergraduate curriculum that produces more rounded graduates. By Margaret Healy, Hugh McBride, Elaine Doyle, Patrick Buckley and Michael Farrell While the knowledge base of the accounting profession is one of its distinguishing features, educators increasingly face tensions between teaching the breadth and depth of the technical aspects of accounting while also facilitating students’ engagement with the broader context in which the accounting discipline is applied. Teaching the digital natives of today’s classrooms can also leave educators struggling to find ways (other than assessments) to engage and motivate their students. Future accounting graduates need to be not only technically excellent but also have the ability and confidence to question the status quo, critically evaluate alternatives, think and behave ethically, work effectively as part of a team, and be open to and embrace change. Contemporary accounting teaching must, therefore, create classroom environments that generate enquiry by continually challenging and stimulating students. Educators must strive to develop deep, active and reflective learning experiences that engage this new generation, creating learning platforms that encourage interaction and blend with students’ evolving learning styles. On 29 November 2019, Chartered Accountants Ireland hosted a workshop on higher-level accounting education run by the Irish Accounting and Finance Association (IAFA).Over 50 participants were involved in the day from numerous higher education institutions (HEIs) on the island of Ireland, representing most of the professional accounting bodies, as well as Institute staff members from the Education and Exams departments. Summarised here are the main themes, issues and innovations arising from the presentations and group discussions. Catching and holding students’ attention Learning is arduous and cognitive effort is required. Neither students nor teachers should lose sight of this in the pursuit of quick fixes or using the latest technology for its own sake. Describing learning motivation as being cognitive, situated and dependent on the subject matter, Professor Martin Valcke of Ghent University in Belgium addressed the importance of creating a mental model that draws students into the material by leveraging what they might already know to ‘catch’ their attention and then ensuring that their attention is maintained. Lecturers need to first ‘catch’ and then ‘hold’ students’ attention and focus. Numerous techniques were suggested to achieve this. Hugh McBride, senior lecturer in business at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, uses various techniques to foster awareness of ethical concepts and considerations in the classroom. The focus is on moving students from ‘confusions of understanding’ to ‘understandings of confusion’ as they grapple with the complexity of dealing with the lack of ‘a right answer’. As a preparation for their ethics module, this approach engages students, builds their confidence and trust in the process, and identifies issues of concern for discussion later, thus acting as a learning mechanism for the lecturer as well as the students. Dr Emer Mulligan, senior lecturer in finance and taxation at NUI Galway and Dr Kim Key, PwC Professor of Accounting at Auburn University, Alabama, USA, run an intercultural teaching exercise in international taxation. With a shared desire to reflect the reality of tax in practice for their students, their group-based project involving students in the US and Ireland seeks to increase awareness of ethical issues as well as an understanding of international corporate tax planning opportunities and techniques. They recommend that educators start by using a case study that has already been published and is well-validated, with teaching notes available. Keeping the requirements simple at the outset improves the ease of implementation. Trade-offs between traditional teaching methodologies, and a focus on grading, versus the broader, real-world experience their teaching exercise provides must also be considered and negotiated with students. While lecturers will want to ensure that the students engage with real-world issues to enhance the relevance and development potential of the case study, this must also be balanced with how students are graded across different institutions. It can be challenging to get students to engage with the broader, real-world context of the subjects they study. For example, undergraduate tax students often pay little attention to the national budget, despite its critical importance to the work of tax practitioners. Dr Patrick Buckley, lecturer in information management at the University of Limerick, uses gamification to encourage students to engage with and learn more about this critical real-world event. A group decision-making tool called a ‘prediction market’ requires students to investigate policy debates and make forecasts about the measures that are likely to be introduced in the Budget. While the approach has been effective in motivating students, Dr Buckley notes that not everyone enjoys gamified learning; it must be used as part of a suite of learning interventions to improve engagement and motivation. Peter Weadack at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dún Laoghaire uses a narrative or ‘storytelling’ approach, involving the five essential elements of a story (characters, setting, conflict, plot and resolution) to help students understand the contents and use of financial statements. After all, he says, “even accountants don’t dream in PowerPoints and T-accounts!” Doing more with less Teaching and learning in contemporary higher education take place under numerous constraints, including pressures on time and financial restrictions. More worrying, perhaps, are the increasing administrative burdens imposed on teaching faculties due to evolving bureaucracy and accreditation demands in addition to diversity issues within the classroom, which increasingly involves catering for a broader range of student needs (or demands). Smaller class sizes, space within modules to cover a broader range of topics in more depth, work placements for students, and the freedom to introduce more research into the curriculum are high on the wishlist for lecturers. Using technology to optimum effect is considered critical in addressing some of these issues. Ensuring that students have ‘skin in the game’ is also a vital means for engaging students, using approaches such as those outlined above, as well as co-creation and self-directed assignments. Re-thinking the undergraduate curriculum A third theme that emerged on the day was the nature of the relationship between the professional accountancy bodies (PABs) and HEIs, a key feature of which is the influence PABs have on accounting degree programme curriculum design, delivery and assessment within the HEI context. While this influence and its impact on professional exemptions are considered to be beneficial to the HEIs in promoting their degree programmes, it also has a restrictive influence on the nature of undergraduate education. The high quality of the various professional syllabi benefits the HEIs in designing their programmes and course modules by ‘piggybacking’ on the prior work of the professional bodies. It is of concern, however, that the focus of HEIs on obtaining and maintaining exemptions has skewed the academic curriculum excessively towards a narrow, technical education, including restricting the variety of assessment instruments used and stifling experimentation and innovation in approaches to teaching and learning. In a contemporary context where there is tension between the demand for technical skills and the need for students to develop transferable skills, broader-based undergraduate accounting education is desirable. It should incorporate an emphasis on understanding the business environment and conceptual frameworks, and on developing a more rounded graduate with a range of interpersonal and self-management skills, affective dispositions (in particular, critical thinking) and professional attributes. The difficulty for individual HEIs, however, is the risk of losing exemptions and damaging the relative attractiveness of their particular programmes in the short-term if they unilaterally redesign their curriculum to incorporate this broader perspective. In this context, it was suggested that there might be scope for the HEIs to approach the PABs to discuss rethinking the undergraduate curriculum collectively. Chartered Accountants Ireland expressed a willingness to engage in such a dialogue. A date for your diary Feedback for this event has been extremely positive, with attendees indicating that the content and format was useful and thought-provoking. In particular, the opportunity to interact with other educators and representatives of the various professional accountancy bodies was welcomed. Participants were anxious for this event to become part of the annual IAFA calender. To this end, we are delighted to announce that the second IAFA Teaching and Learning in Accounting Day is scheduled for 27 November 2020 at Chartered Accountants House.

Apr 01, 2020
Careers

Working from home has become necessary for many people due to COVID-19. But how can you manage when it comes to working remotely? Eric Fitzpatrick gives us nine tips on how to successfully work remotely without going stir-crazy or losing productivity. The Coronavirus is forcing organisations and workforces to reconsider their current work practices. Non-essential travel has been cancelled, events are being postponed or moved to online platforms and companies and organisations have their staff work remotely from home.   At first glance, working from home can be appealing, but there is a downside to it as well. As someone who has worked from home for more than ten years, the following are worth noting when it comes to remote working.  1. Discipline  The key to working at home is discipline. Be clear about what time you will start and finish. Agree these times with your organisation. You might have more flexibility with your hours than you would in your office but it’s important to be clear about your hours. Build in the times and duration of your breaks. Know that you’ll take a break at 11am for 15 minutes. If you’re not disciplined, 15 minutes could easily become 30 minutes or longer.  2. Get dressed If how you dress is too casual, how you work might be, too. Wear work clothes. Working from home might mean dressing as you would for casual Friday in the office, but dressing for work gets you in the frame of mind for work.  3. Designate a workspace  If you have a home office where you can close the door behind you at the end of the day, great. If not, work from a space where you must be clear at the end of the work day, such as the family dining table. By removing access to the workspace, you remove the temptation to go back to work for a couple of hours in the evening.  4. Work in a room that is bright and airy Working in a dark office with no natural light can reduce productivity and enjoyment.  Create a tidy workspace and an environment that is conducive to effective working. Have a place for everything and place only that which you will need in that workspace. 5. Ditch your mobile Be without your mobile for as much as possible, if not needed for work. Leave it in another room if you’re working on a project from which you don’t want to be interrupted. You can lose up to an hour a day picking up your phone to check social media platforms. Remove the temptation.    6. Skip the chores During your working day, don’t put on a wash, do the weekly shopping, vacuum, change the bed covers, paint the kitchen or replace that lock. You’re being paid to work, not to get ahead of the housework.   7. Keep healthy  If you walk or cycle to work, working from home takes away the opportunity to get that exercise. Can you make time elsewhere to get in some activity? Your kitchen will probably be closer to your workspace that the office canteen is to your office desk. It can be very tempting to take 10 seconds to walk to the kitchen to grab a snack. Working from home, you might find yourself doing less exercise and eating more – a bad combination. Try to manage your activity levels and snack time. 8. Don’t go stir-crazy  Working from home can take a bit of getting used to. You go from working in a busy, noisy office to working in quiet isolation. At first, it seems great, then slowly the walls start to close in. The silence becomes too loud and you find you need people to interact with. Don’t go more than two days without speaking to colleagues or clients. Design your calendar to ensure you have regular contact with the outside world.  9. Turn on the radio Music can be a positive contribution to an effective workspace at home. Played in the background, it can replace the noise of the office and remove some of the quiet isolation.  Working from home can increase productivity, improve your quality of life and may become necessary for many people over the coming weeks or months. Knowing how to manage it can make it as successful as possible.   Eric Fitzpatrick is owner of ARK Speaking and Training.  

Mar 20, 2020
Careers

Working remotely can be a struggle, but the best way to manage it is to figure out what works best for you to be productive. Neil Kelders explains.  You are not alone. We are all facing the same struggles. We need to manage these struggles by taking action. Find what the best ingredients are for you to be productive during an uncertain and stressful time.  Communicate  Ask yourself: what is going to stress me out while working at home? Write out your list and get your partner and kids to do the same and discuss. Address the issues and conflicts that come up and plan to overcome those obstacles.  Calm the storm When you wake up, spend a few minutes sitting with yourself. I meditate but if this isn’t for you, just sit and let your thoughts come, recognise them and let them go, focus on your breathing and the calm around you. Schedule your day around your energy levels  To ensure you don’t stress, you need to work with your body. Some of us are ‘early birds’ so our energy peaks in the morning. Others are ‘night owls’ who achieve more and focus better in the evening. Which are you?  If you’re an early bird, the morning is best for analytical work (figuring problems and planning). As an early bird, energy levels are lower in the late afternoon and evening so use that time for creativity and coming up with new ideas. Night owls work the opposite. Meetings and calls are best scheduled for when you know you’ll have low energy because connecting with people raises energy levels. Use distractions to your advantage Our brain craves novelty. When something unexpected happens (like our phones buzzing, for example) it immediately captures our attention, right? Try to build productivity-enhancing distractions into your day, such as making your: 1. To-do list more visible. Put your to-do list on a brightly coloured pad, so that your eyes are regularly drawn to it throughout the day. When you look away from your monitor, you’ll see the pad and your eyes are immediately drawn to your next goal. 2. Alarm as your assistant. Do you lose yourself in something you love doing and need to be reminded to stop and start doing another task? Your alarm is now your reminder to stay on track. Set end times for your activities. I set my timer for 45-minute sessions. I then take a break, reset the timer and go again for 45 minutes. Try it with your kids, build their structure into yours and take breaks together. Sleep better Better sleep does not start at bedtime. It starts with the choices you make during the day.  Improve sleep by:  replacing your afternoon coffee with a post-lunch walk with family (if not isolating); or using your garden to exercise after work. From a sleep perspective, the ideal time for exercising is five to six hours before bed.  Over the coming days (weeks? months?) you will head a lot of advice, but you need to explore what works for you. We all differ, so don’t become frustrated when advice is not working. Remember to adjust to what will work for you. Consistency is key. This is our reality for now, so do things today that make more time tomorrow. Neil Kelders is a coach and advocate for mental wellness and physical fitness. To receive a free eBook on working from home, email Neil.  

Mar 20, 2020
News

We all know that stress is bad for us. Given the current global situation, it is essential that we reduce our stress and improve our wellbeing. Tim France tells us how. The current crisis is stressful. We’re worried about ourselves and the people we love getting sick. We’re worried about the economic impact. We’re worried about practical issues, like how to work from home effectively or whether we will have enough milk, bread… or toilet roll. The trouble is, stress is bad for us. Amongst other things, sustained stress compromises our immune systems. So, it’s not just preferable to be able to reduce stress, it’s essential if we are going to fight off a virus. Here are some simple things we can do to reduce stress and improve wellbeing: Limit negative intake Watching endless news about the virus with emotive graphics, graphs and images feeds our fear. It’s important to limit our exposure to all this negativity to maybe just once or twice a day (just not the first thing or last thing!), and to balance negative stories with positive ones. Follow @goodnews_movement on Instagram for some inspirational stories. Get organised Organising your time and work space, planning ahead and scheduling calls and workload removes stress and makes the working day more manageable and enjoyable. Taking time to plan at the beginning of the day or week is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce stress down the line.  Create new routines Whether working from home or working with social distancing, we all have to find new ways to live and work. We find routine reassuring and uncertainty stressful. It’s important to create new routines quickly. Look for the positives Human beings always manage to find gold in the dirt. Whether war time or natural disaster, history is full of examples of people creating good things from bad situations. So, whether it’s forging stronger bonds with colleagues, spending more time with family, or becoming a video conferencing ninja, focus on and celebrate the positives that are emerging from this crisis. Stay away from conflict In stressful times, it’s easy for conflicts to arise. If you feel your buttons being pushed, take time to think and cool down before responding. Deal with the facts, not emotions, and work to see the other perspective. Stress breeds conflict and conflict creates more stress. It pays to break that cycle. Take time for yourself “You can’t fill a cup from an empty jug” the saying goes. Much is going to be asked of us all, both personally and professionally over the coming weeks and months, but we can’t keep giving without taking time to refill. Listen carefully to your own needs: do you need to rest? Eat? Exercise? Sleep? Drink water? Simply stare out of the window? Whatever it is, give yourself permission to do it. Make sure you meet your own needs so that you can continue to meet the needs of others. There may be some very challenging times ahead, but by following these simple suggestions, we can reduce stress and boost our immune systems. Tim France is the CEO of Transformative Mind & Body Wellbeing Centre.

Mar 19, 2020