‘On the first day of Christmas, my true (career) love gave to me…’

Christmas is about giving but it’s also about happiness.

Here are 12 career gifts that your true (career) love aka ME is giving to you to be happier at work. Rate each ‘gift’ out of 10 and then take action, depending on your results.


First Day: Rate your workplace for Honesty and Integrity

When it comes to ranking my Top 7 Career Values, I never select ‘Honesty and Integrity’. This may seem odd, but I’ve concluded that these qualities are so obvious and important to me that I’d never think of staying in a place where they are lacking.

Many of my clients DO choose this career value and its importance sprang to mind last month when I read about the plight of ANZ Bank employees. According to a report in The Australian newspaper, in the finance division, an internal survey found almost three-quarters of employees were afraid to share bad news with their boss ‘due to fear of repercussions’. As the Australian financial services sector reels from the revelations of the recent Royal Commission, it emerges that only 56% of ANZ employees said they ‘rarely think about looking for a new job with another organisation’, down from 63% in 2015. 

This is quite dire. Imagine what it must be like to be one of those people turning up to work day after day. If your place of work lacks Honesty & Integrity, dust off your exit plan and get out of there as soon as possible.

Do people at your workplace act with honesty and integrity?

Second Day: Rate your résumé

If you ever wanted proof of how important a résumé is, just consider the recent hiring mishap within government circles in Adelaide. Readers of the local paper have been agog at the antics of the decision makers at a high profile Department who selected just three people to interview for the State’s top IT role from 66 applications based ‘purely on CVs’. Unfortunately for the Department, the woman they hired turned out to be a fraud but that’s not the point I’m making here. 

Would your résumé have landed you in that top three pile?

Third Day: Rate your LinkedIn photo

The defence lawyer of the woman in the case above apparently stated that the Department staff should have realised she was suffering from a mental illness because she had superimposed the photo of a famous model on her LinkedIn profile. Presumably the staff at the department didn’t check the applicant on LinkedIn. If so, they are extremely unusual.

At The Career Consultancy, we think a good photo on LinkedIn is so important that we offer our clients a free professional photo shoot so that they look their best.

What does your photo ‘say’ about you?

Fourth Day: Rate your interview performance

A recent client was truly outstanding at interviews – once we’d clarified what this looks and sounds like. However, we both knew that she would face two separate killer questions in her quest for a new role.

So, we took ourselves off to a coffee shop and plotted a strong response in exquisite detail. The message? Even if you’re very good at interviews, there’s no harm in being better. 

How well would you answer ordinary interview questions let alone a killer one?


Fifth Day: Rate your ‘soft’ skills

Time and time again I recommend to clients that they negotiate for an Executive Coaching program from their next employer. Most clients are surprised when I mention it, they don’t currently have a coach and don’t seem to know much about it. Soft skills are actually the hard skills and the days of command and control are long gone.

How well would your fellow staff members rate you on a 360 degree feedback analysis?

Sixth Day: Rate your connectedness

Once you have missed out on an internal job, it’s too late to wish that you had networked better with your colleagues. Once your job has disappeared, it’s too late to regret that you are not well known in your market place.

This is an easy issue to fix with a healthy dose of ruthlessness. No one else is going to look after you so you need to look after yourself. No more endlessly devoting yourself to your organisation. Use a combination of LinkedIn activity, internal chats, attendance at professional forums, lunches, coffees with current contacts and PD sessions with your professional body.

How well known and well respected are you in your market place?

Seventh Day: Rate your industry spread

A recent HBR study of over 2,600 leaders where 45% had suffered at least one major career blow-up – like getting fired, messing up a major deal, or blowing an acquisition – highlighted that 78% of these executives eventually made it to the CEO role. It’s well worth a read.

The article focused mainly on how these ‘career failures’ found their next role. Not surprisingly, 94% of those who landed a new job within 6 months had prior experience in that industry. The message here is that you would be well advised to get experience across 2-3 industries early in your career, so that if you want to move on, there are multiple industries to rebound into rather than being pigeonholed.

How many sectors do you have under your belt?

Eighth Day: Rate your bitterness and negativity

How often do you say negative things about work – whether it’s people or processes? We’ve all seen those people who carry workplace bitterness around with them for their entire life. What an effect it must have on their health, relationships, family and happiness.

If you think that your work colleagues don’t notice, you’re deluding yourself. Even if they agree with you, they don’t really want to be around you and you’re likely to be the first person selected to go in any restructure.

What is your workplace happiness score?


Ninth Day: Rate your relationship with suppliers

A famous book by Frederick Reichhold called The Loyalty Effect posited that truly great organisations treat three groups of people well: customers, employees and suppliers.

From an organisation’s point of view, it makes sense but there are benefits to you as an individual also. New jobs often emerge from your current suppliers. They know other organisations in your sector and can act as the conduit to a new job. If they know, like and respect you they will help you.

What would your suppliers say about you?

Tenth Day: Rate the sun trajectory of your industry and skill set

At this very moment, I am working with a client who will really struggle to get a job. He’s in admin and those jobs are fast disappearing, especially in his geographical location.

Each year, do a detailed scan of the advertised roles in your region in your technical area. Identify the trends. If they are on a downward trajectory, it’s time to get out of that technical field. It’s also time to talk to experts about which area to move into and how to do it.

Consider changing your technical skills. The most logical place to extend your skills is in your current technical field. If you only have basic Excel skills, learn how to do Pivot Tables or V-lookups or even macros. Then, look at related areas. If you are already an advanced Excel user, investigate data analytics, for example.

Is the sun setting on your industry and skill set?

Eleventh Day: Rate your need for your boss’ friendship

One of the most interesting articles I read this year took the view that there was no moral requirement for your boss to like you and that you should basically get over it if she doesn’t. A corollary of this is for you to assess what sort of vibe you send to your boss, if you don’t like her. It is almost certain that she will pick up on your feelings. That’s not what I’d call a good career move.

Does your boss know what you think about her?

Twelfth Day: Rate your resilience

In my experience, those people who fare best when they have lost their jobs tend to be the resilient ones. They have the inner strength and intestinal fortitude to do difficult things, whether it’s facing my ‘evil/eagle’ eyes across the table for interview skills practice or whether it’s phoning a stranger for a meeting as part of a job search networking campaign.

Have you done anything scary lately?

Christmas Stress and the New Year Stupor


In Australia, at least, we madly scramble to finish our projects before the end of the year and the start of the summer holidays. We get a double whammy of stress.

So, realistically, you’re not likely to want to think about ANY of the above issues until after that last mouthful of Chrissie pudding.

JANUARY is the time to do this. Take yourself off to a coffee shop where the music is evocative and the atmosphere is uplifting. Or just sit under the cool shade of a tree.

Unclog your brain, free your spirit and review the changes that you need to make to be happy at work. Then, get started.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here. You’ll be the first to hear about our updates once a fortnight!