Well, session 3 of the Transitions programme is now over, and I’m feeling closer than ever to achieving my goals. In session 2, we reviewed our transferable skills using two different techniques. The first, the so-called “JLA skill cards”, took me back to primary school by asking me to arrange small cards, each bearing a transferable skill, according to how strongly I felt I possessed that skill. Despite feeling a little childish, this exercise was quite useful because it forced me to not only consider each skill in turn, but also to compare my strengths in different areas. This gave me quite a clear idea of not only which specific skills, but also which TYPES of skills I possess, and which I need to develop. The second method involved the “Strengthsfinder” programme – an online assessment with an accompanying book which computes your top 5 strengths out of a list of 34 themes. This was more useful still, because for each of the themes the book provides a short description of a person possessing that strength – and I found this scarily accurate! I must admit I have participated in similar exercises in the past and didn’t really learn anything new from these endeavours, but it was nice to be reminded that I DO have skills, and to be given a little push to improve the areas that really need it.
A little piece of ‘homework’ we were set after session 2 gave me some problems: we were asked to write a number of “CAR stories” (some people may know them as “STAR stories”). These are the little tales you tell to interviewers in behavioural type interviews in response to questions like “tell me about a time you had to motivate others”. C = Challenge (what was the situation), A = action (what did you do) and R = result (how successful were your actions). I found this exceptionally difficult, and turned up to session 3 with only one story completed! Luckily, we discussed these stories in session 3 and I did pick up a few ideas and inspirations for additional stories. I will tell you why I consider this lucky in just a moment!
In session 3, we considered what sorts of jobs we would like to have and used mind maps to explore new possibilities. We were asked to choose 2 assignments from a list of 5, all aimed at identifying career options, exploring potential careers in more detail, or just thinking about what our ideal day at work would entail. I chose to collect job advertisements that caught my eye (even ones in far flung corners of the world where I would never actually work), in the hope that a pattern will emerge that can tell me something about what I value in a job! Let’s see if that works.
There was also a small development for me this fortnight! I had seen a job advertisement that could well turn out to represent my ideal job – a medical writer role right in the heart of Leeds, exactly what I want to do and in exactly the right location! Thinking it was too good to be true, I applied but kept my expectations low. To my amazement, they called me and offered me an interview! After a short telephone interview, I was asked to come into their offices, and as I write the panel is considering my application with a possible view to offering me the job! This is where the CAR stories come into play again: the interview was billed as a behavioural interview, meaning that I could not succeed unless I developed an extensive list of CAR stories, fast! Thank goodness we had covered that in Transitions, or I would really have had a hard time.
I will find out the outcome today or tomorrow; I’ll be sure to let you know what happens!