Browse Category: career coaching

Interview coaching works

Interview coaching works. Fact.

Just ten minutes ago I was writing a blogpost on women in leadership positions. Then the phone rang. It was a client I coached last week and over the weekend who had a job interview yesterday with one of the best law firms in the world. I froze. I always do. A call from a client the day after an interview demands one of two things from me. Commiserations or congratulations. They either get the job or they don’t. It’s binary. Nothing vague about it. My only hope was that because it was the day after the interview it was good news.

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Keeping cool when technology lets you down

Technology is not a faithful friend – What do you do when technology lets you down

Technology is the lazy presenter’s crutch. Good presenters are able to survive and win even when technology goes AWOL. When I was A Conservative Party Association Chairman I attended a National Convention meeting of the great, the good and the pompous at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. Stephen Gilbert, who now works in No. 10 and who probably hasn’t had a holiday since May 5 2010, was set to give a presentation in huge theatre to an audience of around 1000 “senior party activists” – an audience not famous for being forgiving or understanding.

He was presenting data, polling, statistics and strategy. Powerpoint was poised to help and underpin his presentation. I was quite far back in this huge room full of harumph-ready impatience so I couldn’t see whether the guilty piece of technology was the projector or the laptop. But something failed, the title slide disappeared and Stephen was in the middle of the stage in front of an audience of 1000 diverging opinions. He was armed with a handful of papers.

He didn’t skip a (visible) beat. He didn’t lean over the laptop and mutter. He didn’t apologise for the problem or make a joke about technology. Hardly appearing to ever refer to his notes he started his presentation with just his voice and what was in his head.  He spoke fluently and at length to the audience – brushing off the technology betrayal with impressive nonchalance. After the presentation everybody was speaking about what he wanted them to speak about – the technology failure was forgotten. Perfect result.

How did his presentation survive the technology failure?

I have never spoken to him about it. But he survived and won because he knew his stuff backwards. Most presenters would have crashed and burned – and then blamed or tried to kill the IT guy instead of blaming themselves for lack of preparation.

Stephen knew his message, the data, the strategy, the polls. You could almost argue that he was more fluent without the Powerpoint as some visual aids confuse rather than aid.

This video is quite fun – it is a Fox News weather man living the advice of “just keep going and don’t panic when things go wrong.”

P.S. I wrote for @CityAM on which visual aids you could, or should, use in speeches and presentation. You can read the article here.

Cut the Jargon

ID-100186396Have you ever discussed the strategic importance of thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope, and giving 110 per cent? Then you may be victim of business jargon.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management has found that management jargon is used in nearly two thirds of work places, with almost a quarter of workers considering it to be a pointless annoyance. So maybe it is time to cut the jargon.

This should make us question whether business jargon is worth using at all. Unnecessary jargon muddies the clear water of your message. It can create a barrier between you and your audience, impeding your ability to connect with them. In some industries there are complex issues which are difficult to break down into simple terms, but that does not grant anyone permission to use complex and completely redundant language.

There are many reasons why people use this terminology. Sometimes people feel the need to dress up language to cover a lack of knowledge or self-confidence. Some may use it to bury the truth on an issue. While others may simply use it as it is part of the language they hear every day at work.

Communication is key. If you are using language that hinders your ability to communicate or get your message across in a clear, concise, and interesting way, then it shouldn’t be used. A lack of clear communication can result in missed opportunities; clients may be lost, promotions missed out on, or job interviews unsuccessful.


Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG /

How to handle a job appraisal

IMG_0974Some find the thought of a job appraisal scary. The thought of sitting across from your boss or superior answering questions about your performance, defending the decisions you have made and explaining the mistakes you couldn’t avoid.

Here are some ideas on how to handle a job appraisal:

  1. Preparation

Make a list of the most recent projects and tasks that you have worked on. For each project write down a couple of successful points of what went well – how you communicated well within the team, how you used your initiative to implement a new idea, or whatever. Then list what you believe could have been improved, which areas you could develop yourself and how you could go about doing that. By doing this exercise you can intercept most of the questions that may be asked.

  1. Get in the right mind-set

A job appraisal is not an exercise to trip you up, expose you or embarrass you. The purpose of a job appraisal is to allow your employer to understand what you are capable of and what you need to do to improve your job performance. By understanding this you will be able to get in the right frame of mind. Being confident in the knowledge of what you have achieved will allow you relax and perform the best in your appraisal.

  1. Listen and learn

A job appraisal, when done well, will provide you with incredibly helpful advice and opportunities to improve yourself and your work performance. A job appraisal is not about holding you accountable for the things you have done wrong, but instead it is about giving you the ability to learn from somebody else’s experience and opinion.

  1. Don’t go on the offensive

Employers want employees who can identify ways to improve, accept advice and outside opinions, and are willing to advance themselves. By going on the offensive any chance of a promotion or pay rise will be lost. Being overly defensive, or even offensive, will show that you are unable to accept criticism and shows you are unwilling to change.



Need a coach? Peter Botting

How to reboot your job hunt

Need a coach? Peter BottingHave you been job hunting for a long time with little results? It can be a demoralising process, especially the longer it goes on. Often all a job hunt needs is a reboot to put some more life into it and into you and help you down the right path towards a new job. I advise that you first take a few days off. Spend some decent focused time with friends and family. Switch off from the job hunt and don’t do anything work related. Get some exercise and some fresh air. Ideally get some time in a different town. Then when you are focused and rested try out these ideas on how to reboot your job hunt:

  1. What do you want?

This is a simple and fundamental question, yet so often job hunters do not have an answer. What sort of job are you looking for? Do you want to change industry? What qualifications and skills do you want to make the most of? What sort of people and company do you want to work for? These sorts of questions can be easy to answer once broken down, but by answering them it can you the focus you need. Use a pen and paper and take your time answering the questions. You have me on your hands – use it.

  1. Change your time

How long do you spend a week searching for a new job? Chances are you could spend more time job hunting. Measure how long you spend on average searching for a new job in a week, then you can assess how much more time you could spend. Obviously spending hours scrolling through job sites is pointless, instead spend your time researching and networking.

  1. Reassess your social networks

We are starting to live in a world where social media is a must. Having a strong and consistent social media presence is no longer optional when looking for a job. Maybe you have a Twitter you rarely use, or a LinkedIn which needs updating. As employers increasingly look at your online presence to assess you, taking your time and putting effort into your social media profiles can pay off.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Articles published in City A.M. this week

City A.M. articles for this week.

CityAM Screenshot2

I’m really enjoying writing for City A.M. each week, I hope you are enjoying reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them. Here are the articles I published this week, be sure to check out what I published last week in City A.M..

Here are my articles published in City A.M. this week:


Stalled career syndrome: What to do when your job’s going nowhere

Are you bored at work? Passed over for that promotion? Find yourself procrastinating or spending time surfing the net to make up office face time? Feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Then you may be suffering from stalled career syndrome.

Two ways to really annoy your boss

Want to annoy your boss? Why wouldn’t you? By simply and consistently annoying your boss you could leave those boring office days behind, forget the early mornings and that rubbish, crowded commute and spend the rest of your days at home in your underwear watching daytime TV. Whoop whoop.


Here are my articles published in City A.M. last week

See all the articles published on the blog this week



Fancy a Job as a Nato Speechwriter?

If you have to be a speechwriter, why not be a NATO speechwriter?

I was contacted today by the NATO HQ Recruitment Service about a job vacancy for a Senior Speechwriter, a key post at NATO HQ.

Information on the vacancy can be found here.

I have copied and pasted bits the advert for those interested… but too lazy to click! 😉

Senior Speechwriter-140291

Primary Location Belgium-Brussels
Schedule Full-time
Salary (Pay Basis) : 8,143.46Euro (EUR) Monthly
Grade A.5




LOCATION: NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium


TITLE: Senior Speechwriter



Please note that the competition for this post is provisionally scheduled as follows (exact dates to be confirmed):
– Pre-selection screening during the week of 13 October 2014;
– Final selection during the weeks of 3 or 10 November 2014 in Brussels, Belgium.

This competition may also lead to the creation of a reserve list for future grade A5 and A.4 vacancies within the speechwriting team.


NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division (PDD) plays a key role in explaining the Alliance’s strategic and political messages to opinion formers and to the public in general. As NATO’s main public interface, PDD works to raise the Alliance’s profile with audiences world-wide. PDD also works to promote security cooperation through a variety of programmes in NATO and partner countries and contributes to a continuous process of international security debate and policy creation. Last but not least, the Division also acts as coordinator for most public diplomacy activities undertaken by other Divisions at NATO Headquarters (HQ), as well as by other entities belonging to the NATO structure.

The Press and Media Section is the principal point of contact for all media-related issues at NATO HQ, including engagement with the media, media policy, and media analysis and monitoring. The NATO Spokesperson has overall responsibility for all speeches and public remarks for the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General.

The Senior Speechwriter reports to the NATO Spokesperson and the Deputy Spokesperson/Head of Press & Media. He/she oversees the team of speechwriters which is an integral part of the Press & Media Section. He/she conducts background research and drafts speeches, articles, key press conferences, public remarks and other material as appropriate, as part of the overall communications strategy for the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General.

In carrying out these responsibilities, the Senior Speechwriter keeps abreast of the wide range of political and politico-military issues on NATO’s agenda. He/she follows the guidance of the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General, directly, and through the NATO Spokesperson, and contributes to the overall output of the Press and Media Section.

He/she also maintains close relationships with the staff of the Private Office, the Public Diplomacy Division, and with other Divisions within the International Staff (IS) and International Military Staff (IMS), as well as with the NATO Military Authorities and Allied missions.

Applicants are requested to attach to their application one speech that they have written recently and that, in their view, is representative of their work. This piece should have been prepared by the applicant alone and should be in English. The speech may, but need not, treat a topic or area of direct interest to the Organization. Applicants are requested to indicate the following elements in relation to the speech: date of the speech, speaker, three quotable quotes, venue and audience.


The incumbent must:
possess a university degree from an institute of recognised standing, preferably in political science, history, journalism and/or the study of contemporary international relations;
have at least 10 years’ experience of drafting speeches, articles, key media messages and other written material to deadline and in the appropriate style;
have substantial experience in contributing to policy development, political research, and analysis and reporting, preferably in a research institute, think-tank or in the Foreign or Defence ministry of a NATO member Nation;
have extensive knowledge of the whole range of political and military issues of concern to the Alliance;
possess a mature understanding of the complex interrelationships of political and defence developments as they affect Allied security;
be an effective public speaker;
possess the following minimum levels of NATO’s official languages (English and French): VI (“Proficient”) in one and I (“Beginner”) in the other;
be available to travel and to work long and unsocial hours as required.


Expertise Development
Within in the Press & Media Section, supervise the team of speechwriters in close coordination with the Deputy Spokesperson/Head of Press and Media. Draft speeches, opinion articles and key press conferences for the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General. Keep abreast of NATO’s broad political and military agenda. Keep up-do-date on all NATO-related media and communications issues. Draft opening statements for the Secretary General’s public remarks at ministerial and summit meetings, as well as remarks for internal use as required.

Policy Development
Contribute to the shaping of NATO policy by providing recommendations for the Secretary General’s major speeches, articles and key press conferences.

Knowledge Management
Conduct the appropriate research and analysis to draft speeches, articles and key press conferences for the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General.

Project Management
Plan and ensure the preparation of all output by the team of speechwriters to deadline and in the appropriate style.

Information Management
Supervise the effective flow of all work produced by the team of speechwriters, ensuring that appropriate products are distributed to deadline and in the appropriate style.

Stakeholder Management
Maintain close relationships with the Press and Media Section, staff of the Private Office, PDD, and with other Divisions within the IS and IMS, as well as with the NATO Military Authorities and Allied missions.

Perform any other related duty as assigned.


In carrying out the above responsibilities, the Senior Speechwriter reports directly to the Spokesperson and to the Deputy Spokesperson/Head of Press and Media. He/she is an integral part of the Press & Media Section, and maintains and develops close working relationships with the members of the team, in particular with press officers. He/she follows the guidance of the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General, directly and through the NATO Spokesperson. He/she maintains close relationships with the staff of the Private Office, Divisions within the International Staff and International Military Staff, and the NATO Military Authorities and Allied missions. In addition, he/she will be expected to build strong links with security and communication experts outside of NATO.

Direct reports: 2
Indirect reports: N/a.


The incumbent must demonstrate:
Analytical Thinking;
Clarity and Accuracy;
Conceptual Thinking;
Customer Service Orientation;
Impact and Influence;
Organisational Awareness;


Contract to be offered to the successful applicant (if non-seconded):
Definite duration contract of three years; possibility of renewal for up to three years, during which the incumbent may apply for conversion to an indefinite duration contract.

Contract clause applicable:

In accordance with the contract policy, this is a post in which turnover is desirable for political reasons in order to be able to accommodate the Organisation’s need to carry out its tasks as mandated by the Nations in a changing environment, for example by maintaining the flexibility necessary to shape the Organisation’s skills profile, and to ensure appropriate international diversity.

The maximum period of service foreseen in this post is 6 years. The successful applicant will be offered a 3-year definite duration contract, which may be renewed for a further 3-year period. However, according to the procedure described in the contract policy the incumbent may apply for conversion to an indefinite contract during the period of renewal and no later than one year before the end of contract.

If the successful applicant is seconded from the national administration of one of NATO’s member States, a 3-year definite duration contract will be offered, which may be renewed for a further period of up to 3 years subject also to the agreement of the national authority concerned. The maximum period of service in the post as a seconded staff member is six years.

Serving staff will be offered a contract in accordance with the NATO Civilian Personnel Regulations.


Applications must be submitted using one of the following links, as applicable:
For NATO civilian staff members only: please apply via the internal recruitment portal (for more information, please contact your local Civilian HR Manager);
For all other applications:


Due to the broad interest in NATO and the large number of potential candidates, telephone or e-mail enquiries cannot be dealt with.

Appointment will be subject to receipt of a security clearance (provided by the national Authorities of the selected candidate) and approval of the candidate’s medical file by the NATO Medical Adviser.

Applicants who are not successful in this competition may be offered an appointment to another post of a similar nature, albeit at the same or a lower grade, provided they meet the necessary requirements.

Please note that we can only accept applications from nationals of NATO member countries.

NATO is an equal opportunities employer, and does not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race or ethnic origin, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age (restrictions to age may apply for first appointment only, according to the NATO Civilian Personnel Regulations. This is a prerogative as approved by the NATO Council).

Please note that the International Staff at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium is a non-smoking environment.

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