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Happy UN Career Podcast
17 minutes | 23 days ago
Strengthen Your UN Career With SMART Goals
Hello, and welcome to this 2nd episode in a series I’ve called: “Plan & Succeed”. In the previous episode, I argued that good planning and organizational skills will help you both in your daily work – and in your career. (That’s the episode called “Can Planning Help Boost Your UN Career?” which you can find at www.barbarakandersen.com/17). Planning, structure and prioritisation will of course help you be more effective with your day-to-day tasks and projects. Which will make you feel better about your work and your professional life. And which will certainly add to your professional reputation – and in that way to your career development. But it’s also essential for deliberately setting specific and actionable goals and milestones for your own career development. And, maybe most importantly, helping you take action on these goals. Creating that happy UN Career for yourself! Do you enjoy working with goals? Or do you maybe have more of a love/hate relationship with goals? Many of my clients are in that last category. They often love the idea of goalsetting. When it’s still far in the distance and the goals make them feel industrious and ambitious. But then, often when the goals are set, they suddenly feel burdensome, and you can start worrying that you might not have the strength and the resources to reach them. Then it can feel like the goals are looming over you. Like concrete blocks that will fall on your head if you don’t work hard enough and reach your goals on time. And that doesn’t feel motivating at all. I’ve definitely experienced this love/hate relationship with goals myself until I learned how good goalsetting works for me. So, I want to show you how to enjoy working with goals because you’ll see how clear your goals get. And you’ll appreciate the way well-framed goals will help pull you towards the dreams you want to achieve.So, why are goals so important? Because goal setting can be a very powerful tool in your professional development!What’s great about using goals in a very deliberate way is that they are the way to making your dreams and visions (and your ambitions) tangible. When you do it right, they will- Push you towards the dream of the vision you want to achieve, and they’ll- Pull you at the same time They help push you because they remind you of your ambition. That you have made this promise to yourself and that you don’t want to let yourself down on. This becomes especially powerful if you also create accountability for yourself.And they pull you because if you have created your goal in the right way then the image and the feeling that you have of your goal will be a strong attraction and motivation for you. Just like putting a beautiful photo of your next holiday location on the wall will pull you every time you look at it.So, well-developed goals are really the way to move on your dreams and visions. And ambitions! The SMART way to powerful and motivating goalsThere’s a great guide for setting up goals, and you might already have heard about it. It’s called SMART. However, even if you already know about it, my experience is that most people don’t really use it very well. If they use it all. And that’s a big shame because SMART is both easy and effective. So, this is how it works... Read the full show notes at http://www.barbarakandersen.com/18
10 minutes | a month ago
Can Planning Help Boost Your UN Career?
Welcome to this 1st episode in a new series called: “Plan and Succeed”.In the last few episodes, I’ve talked about some of the big issues around career and work life. Your visions. Your dreams. And your values. So, basically all about what fulfils you in your work and life.However, a very important element in succeeding with all of this is your ability to make your visions and dreams tangible. And take action on them. So, in this new series I’ll share some very simple, but very effective techniques for planning, creating overview and – maybe most importantly – prioritising your time, your attention and your resources. You can find the complete show notes for today’s episode at www.Barbarakandersen.com/17.What’s really important to understand here is that good habits and techniques around planning, will help you not only become more effective with your day-to-day work tasks. But also help you reach the bigger goals for your career and for your personal life. How does planning help?No matter our personality, our job function, our family status, we all benefit from some level of structure, overview and clear prioritization. In fact, your ability to plan and prioritise can be a key determining factor for creating and maintaining a happy UN Career. Your ability to plan and prioritise is critical in order for you to:succeed with your work projectshave a general peace of mind, knowing that you’re on top of your worksustain a balance between those work tasks that are urgent (of which we all seem to have too many)– and those tasks that are important, but don’t have a deadline (and are therefore often left on the back burner too long. Think for example: strategy, development, health, training, etc.)find time for planning and executing long term professional and career developmentand last, but not least, to create and maintain a balance between work and home lifePlanning is worth your time!A big eye opener for me was when I heard the quote from the American time management guru, David Allen, which says something like this: ”For every minute you use on planning, you save 10 minutes on execution!” When I heard that the first time, I thought: “Hmm, that sounds just too good to be true.” It actually seemed sort of counterintuitive to me, because it often felt like I had so much on, that I couldn’t possibly waste 5 minutes on planning. I just wanted to throw myself headfirst into the email inbox!But, in my own personal experience, it has proven true again and again – that, really, for every minute I use on planning I save more on the execution of the task or the project. It’s always more effective to get an overview and prioritise your time. And your resources. The better I think throughmy prioritiesmy planning and the most effective way to deal with a taskthe right order of action stepsthe amount of time I have available and the time I need for a taskThe more I do of all that – the better my day and my week flows. The more I get done. The more successful I am with my goals. And the happier I feel at the end of my workday.(And this is also what the people I help report back to me.)So, planning really is well worth your time!Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/17
12 minutes | 2 months ago
What Will Your UN Career Look Like 10 Years from Now?
Welcome to this 5th episode in a small series I’ve called: “Professional Development - Job Hunting and Your CV”.In the previous episode, I talked about how to use all the work you have to do anyway for your annual performance review to fuel your own work on your career development. You can find that episode at www.barbarakandersen.com/15.In today’s episode, I want you to take a longer view of your career. You could say that we’re going to have a look into the crystal ball! Because I want to invite you to think about what your CV will look like in 10 years. Where will you be? And what do you want your CV to look like? What do you want it to reflect about your professional life?Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to wait and see what happens?I’ve noticed three different ways of approaching career planning:There is no plan - one day simply follows the other. You show up, do your job and hope for the best. Actually – there is no plan here.You have a clear plan and vision for your career. First this kind of job, then that kind of job. Always preparing for the next stepYou have dreams, but there’s no clear plan. Apart from your education, you probably haven’t taken major action to drive yourself toward a clearly defined goal. It feels more like you have navigated the flow and the possibilities that showed up. In my experience, the last group is the biggest one. And this was also my path for many years. I always felt lucky when I got a job. Then I worked hard to do that job as well as I could. I realised what I liked and didn’t like about it. But I was very much flowing with the opportunities that showed up. I can see now that I was more reactive than proactive in my career back then. Maybe you recognize this scenario?You got the job. You learned to do the job. Learned from the job. Settled in. Got comfortable with the job. Then, slowly you got a bit tired of the job or the content of the job - or the general setting you were in. Slowly you started to think about “what else?” What could be interesting? Where could I go?So, maybe you don’t really have a plan. But the truth is that if you dare ask yourself, there are things that you’d like to see happen for yourself. Maybe you’ve had that question in a job interview: “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” Was it easy to respond to? And have you acted on it?Many of us hope that opportunities will show up. However, experience has shown me that hope is not really a strategy. I don’t believe we can decide or predict exactly what will happen five or 10 years from now. But we can envision what we’d like our professional life to look like. And we can take action to move in that direction.Is there a 4th way?So, your CV is essentially a shorthand version of your career. Is that something that is happening to you? Or are you setting the direction? Are you proactive or reactive? If you want to become more proactive, that doesn’t mean that you have to – or should - plan everything in great detail. Not at all, actually. But the first essential step is to become aware of what direction you want to go in.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/16.
10 minutes | 3 months ago
3 Ways to Get a UN Career Boost from Your Performance Review Process
Welcome to today’s episode which is related to something many of us dread - the annual performance review process! Oh, the hours I spent on this in my UN career. And, to be frank, not always convinced that the value of the process compared to the time I and everybody else invested in it. So, although I very much agreed with the theory of the performance review (I was working in Human Resources after all!) – I must say that I didn’t personally look forward to the process. Having to evaluate myself. Try to write about how brilliant I thought I’d done through the year. Not exactly my cup of tea!So, I’m happy to let you know that today’s episode is not really about the performance review process itself. It’s about seeing the performance review process from a different angle. You can find the show notes for today’s episode at www.Barbarakandersen.com/15.So, you should no longer see the performance review as a stressor in the middle of other urgent work. Instead, let the performance review serve as your annual prompt to stay on track with your career development and ensure that you take time to take action and take charge of your career. I actually already touched on this in episode 9, the one called “Why You Always Want to Have an Updated CV!” (You can find that episode at www.barbarakandersen.com/9 ).3 ways to get much more out of the performance review process!#1 Use it as an Opportunity to Go into “Career Mode”You’re busy. It feels like there’s never really enough time to think about your career, your professional development, networking and looking for jobs.But for the performance review process you’re required to sit down and update your goals. You have to review your results and your competencies. You’re forced to think and write about what you’ve done well during the year. And you should welcome that as an opportunity. You may not necessarily expect big results from the performance review itself, but I say it’s actually good that you’re forced to do this because you need to think about it for you. So, take this opportunity to go into “career mode” and line out: Everything you’ve achieved and all you’ve learned during the yearThe results you’ve createdThe competencies you’ve displayed or developedThe skills you’ve displayed or developedWhile you’re in this “career mode”, think also about:What’s the next thing you’d like to do? What would you like your next job to be? What are the skills you’d like to develop further?Would you like to diversify?Would you like to go to the next level in terms of expertise – or in terms of authority and responsibility?Would you like to develop by moving to the field? Or to HQ or a regional setting?Is there a particular part of the world you’re eager to experience? Would you be interested to see what difference your experience could make in an NGO setting?Or would you like to go home and use your expertise in a government context?You should of course talk with your supervisor about as many of these things as you feel comfortable with. Seek his or her support for your development and your next steps. If you don’t think this is feasible, think about how else this can be done? Who else will/can support you?Think about what you will do in order to move in that direction.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/15.
14 minutes | 3 months ago
3 Reasons Why You Need Goals for the Next Year
Hello, and welcome to this 14th episode in the Happy UN Career Podcast - about 3 reasons why you want to set goals for the next year (and the 8 steps you need)!So, today’s episode is about looking forward in the next year – even if that seems difficult in the midst of the pandemic. But most of us are geared in such a way that we function best with something to look forward to.And if the outside world is not providing that – you should look to create it yourself.I believe that if we want change in our lives, we really have to find a way to look for – and create – that change ourselves. We can’t change the pandemic. We can’t change the restrictions that may apply in the place we live. But we can start making plans for the things we can make happen. That we want to make happen.So today I’ll share the 3 reasons why you should create goals for yourself for the next year – and the 8 steps to do that.So, this episode is really about goalsetting – laying out a direction for the year. For your year.Reason #1 for creating goals for the year: Good goals let you work on your planBecause if you don’t have your own goals – and plans to reach your goals – you’ll end up spending your time working on other people’s goals. Other people’s plans.Goalsetting is really about setting intentions. Figuring out where you want to go – so you can plan a way to get there. If you don’t know where you’re going how will you know how to get there? And how will you know when you have arrived? If you just follow the flow, one day after the other, one email after the other, you’ll be fine for a while probably. But one day you might look up from your desk and realise that the world changed around you. People left the team. Your supervisor is new. And now the scope of your work is being changed. It seems like everybody else had a plan and moved on. And maybe you were so busy responding to emails, meeting deadlines, and attending meetings that you didn’t get around to figuring out your own plan. Let alone taking action on it.This was my life at one point. I was so busy doing the day-to-day stuff that I never really had the energy – or thought I had the time - to step back and deliberately make a plan for what I wanted to happen. How I wanted to develop. What I wanted to try. Maybe I was also a bit afraid? Because I knew what I had. I was comfortable with feeling really good at my job. If I left for something else, then maybe I wouldn’t feel as confident. At least for a while. And what if I wouldn’t perform as well in the new place? In the new role? And possibly there was also a level of procrastination involved. When you’re already very busy, it takes extra energy to pull yourself away from that. So, you just get on with your job and respond to the next email and tick off the next thing on the to-do list and thus leave the goal setting and the bold decisions for – tomorrow. Reason #2 for creating goals for the year: Good goals put you in controlWhen you set goals (and make a plan), you have conscious thoughts about what you want. What you want your life and work to look like. And feel like. You’re taking responsibility. You’re being proactive instead of being reactive. When we’re spending most of our time and resources reacting to all the things others want from us, demand from us – that can easily make us feel despondent. It can make us feel like we haven’t much control over our lives. And that is not good for us in the long run.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/14.
11 minutes | 4 months ago
Don’t miss out on the good stuff from 2020
Hello, and welcome to today’s episode which is about using the end of the year to take stock and celebrate everything you did and all that you accomplished in 2020. Maybe you remember the Career Car analogy that I talked about in Episode 3? Well, imagine that you’ve been driving for a while now. The traffic has been dense, and you’ve often had to find new routes – trying to get around big holes in the road or avoiding an accident you could see further up the road. But you’ve still been driving as fast as you could because it often felt like you were a bit late. And there was still a long way to go.Now you’re feeling tired and in need of a break. You might be a bit concerned about the route you’re taking. Is it still the best one? Are you going to be able to arrive at your destination in time? And are you sure still sure about your destination?So, today I want to give you an opportunity to pull over, get out of your car and have a good, long stretch. Lower your shoulders that have been sitting up around your ears for the last while. Turn and look around and behind you – and get out the map and really notice how far you’ve travelled. And faster than you thought after all? Maybe you visited places on the way that you had not at all anticipated from the beginning. What did you learn and experience on the way? With whom? How did you cope with the challenges and problems? Etc. 2020 has been a hard year. A truly challenging year for everyone, and it’s easy to just want it over and done with. And then forget it all. But that would be a big shame, I think. After all, many things happened that I want to remember. And be mindful of. And I’m sure that’s the case for you too. A lot happened in 2020, and you coped with a lot– and my guess is that some of those things you probably already forgot about. From a work perspective, working in the UN, I’m sure you still delivered a lot – under different and more challenging circumstances due to the pandemic. So, this episode is about taking time to remember, acknowledge and celebrate everything you did. All the things that went well after all. All the things that turned out differently, but in the end were ok. The battles you fought. The challenges you overcame. The work you still managed to do while homeschooling your children from the dining table. The training you pulled off, but now online instead of physically. The support to colleagues and supervisees that you had to do via Zoom instead of being able to chat informally in the office. Missing social and professional interaction with your colleagues. And so on. You will of course have many more examples yourself.Privately, you probably had to cope with many challenging situations as well. Working from home – maybe in settings that were not really conducive to focused work. Maybe sharing your internet connection with the rest of the family having to negotiate whose Zoom meeting would take priority. Suddenly being responsible for your children’s schooling from home (and I’m sure many of us have gained a lot of respect for the teaching profession!). Missing parties and celebrations. Not being able to be with your family and friends, etc. It’s been hard, but you are still here. So, I have a small exercise that I always enjoy at this time of the yearRead the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/13
11 minutes | 5 months ago
Do You Need Others to Approve of Your Career?
Welcome to this 12th episode of the Happy UN Career Podcast!I’m so pleased to see that the podcast has been well received by you who are listening to this. Because without you – there really wouldn’t be much point in doing this.It’s very interesting to see the metrics for the different episodes and I can see already that some episodes are particularly popular. One of them is episode 10, the one I called “Take a Chance” where I interviewed my former colleague from UNDP, Mike Dodd, about how he’d taken chances in his career. So, if you haven’t heard that one yet, I’d encourage you to go back and give it a listen at www.barbarakandersen.com/10 .Your career belongs to youAnd inspired by my talk with Mike, I wanted to talk a bit more in today’s episode about how important it is to acknowledge that your career really and truly is a personal and individual thing. Your career belongs to you. And now you might say: well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? We’re all individuals with distinct personalities, and competencies and skills. How can a career not be personal and individual?However, so often when I talk to people (and this goes for both clients and friends and old colleagues) it strikes me that we constantly compare ourselves to others and how they’re doing. What they’re doing. Especially those that are ahead of us in terms of being at a higher level in the hierarchy or are working in areas that are somehow deemed more important or influential. It’s easy to get a feeling that you should be more like those people, find out what they do and maybe try to do the same thing. Progress in the same way as them. And that feeds the sense that so many of us are struggling with already. That we’re not quite measuring up. That we’re not making the choices we ought to make. Or succeeding in the way others expect of us.So, I have a question for you today: Do you feel that your career has to live up to other people’s expectations?What I have noticed is that we attach quite a bit of value to what other people think of us, and our career. How they evaluate how we’re doing in our career. What we’re doing. Or who we report to. Or what our title is. And so on.I wonder if you recognize this?We’re influenced by societal norms. But maybe even more by organizational norms. That makes us look at what others do. Thinking, maybe that’s what I should do? But we’re also influenced by others’ opinions and expectations of us in a very direct way. We’re influenced by what our parents taught us, by what our spouse or partner wants for us, by what our supervisor expects, what our friends suggest, and so on.This goes from: what next job you should pursue to how to do networking or promote your work – or yourself! And all these expectations and suggestions come from a good place. All these people care for you and want what they think is best for you. For you to fit in. Be successful. And be safe. Based on their own experiences and how they see the world.But what works for one person does not necessarily work for the other. And yet, I find that a lot of advice around career is not particularly centered on supporting that sense of the individuality. Or finding out what inspires and motivates you in your work life.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/12
15 minutes | 5 months ago
5 Key Principles for a Great CV
Hello, and welcome to this 3rd episode in a small series I’ve called: “Professional Development - Job Hunting and CVs”.In the previous episode in this series (the episode called “Why You Always Want to Have an Updated CV!”) I talked about 5 problems you solve by always having a good, updated CV. You can find that episode at www.barbarakandersen.com/9.As I also promised in that episode, I’m back today to talk about some important guiding principles for writing a CV you’ll feel proud of – and that you’ll be happy to share with your network and send with your applications. So, that’s the topic for today. I’ve identified 5 important CV writing principles that nearly always come into play when I discuss CV’s with my clients. I’ll share those with you of course – plus, I’ll share a tip to make CV writing interesting and rewarding! So, who likes CV writing, anyway?The thing is – as I know I have said before - I have yet to meet a person who told me that they enjoyed working on their CV! I have met a few people who treated CV writing as just another task on their to-do list that they would just sit down and work their way through. According to plan. But then I’ve met a lot of people who really don’t enjoy it. In the same way they really don’t enjoy the annual performance review process.Maybe you recognize this? Of course, you want to be recognized for your efforts, but you find the whole CV writing process somewhat tedious. And you feel uncomfortable having to point out your own talents and achievements. I definitely felt like that myself! I had a love-hate relationship with CV writing for many years. I wanted, of course, to have a crisp and professional-looking CV clearly outlining my experience and competencies. And which would hopefully give me an edge in the recruitment process.And I certainly enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment and professionalism when I finally got it done and felt I’d done an OK job of it. But frankly, I felt very self-conscious about the whole process of deciding what to keep in and what to leave out. Suddenly everything seemed important. But was it? At the same time, I felt very awkward about having to promote myself. And I felt uncomfortable with the tactics I felt were going on with the CV writing and the whole application process. The whole thing triggered feelings of frustration and discomfort – and, honestly, a lot of procrastination. The problem, I found out later, is that this way of thinking about CV writing is very much focused on me, myself, and my feelings. And all those feelings make it difficult to sort the essential from the non-essential in the CV.A good first tip is to get yourself – or at least your feelings - out of the CV, so to speak. And that’s where it’s often very helpful to get support from someone else. So, to help you get started, I'm happy to share 5 important CV writing principles. 5 Key Principles for Writing or Rewriting Your CVPrinciple #1: Make it short(er)There are no laws or regulations on CV’s. But there’s good advice. Which is based on common sense really. I may tell you that your 8-page CV is far too long. But then you may tell me that this is the CV you used when you got hired for your current position. So, an 8-page CV does not necessarily mean that you won’t get shortlisted. But it does not really signal competence in filtering the essential from the non-essential. Or strong written communication skills.Read the full show notes at http://www.barbarakandersen.com/11
26 minutes | 6 months ago
Take a Chance - Interview w Mike Dodd (UNDP)
I’m thrilled to be able to share an interview with my good friend and former colleague, Mike Dodd. Mike is from the UK and he started with UNDP in 1991 and retired at the end of 2015. I asked Mike to come on the podcast because I think he’s had a very interesting career path, but maybe more importantly – because of the way he has approached work and career and the way he’s taken decisions in his own career over the years. Mike began as a UN Volunteer in Zimbabwe, moved to supporting the global rollout of UNDP’s ERP IT infrastructure as a Regional Information Manager and he finished as a headquarters-based Learning Specialist at the P4 level. Mike’s worked on three continents and his work with UNDP spanned both Country Offices, Regional Centres and Headquarters.In the interview, Mike shares his own career journey and how the chances he's taken along the way have enriched not only his career but also his personal life.I always get inspired when I talk to Mike and I think that in his reflections on his career there is something to take away for all of us. So, I hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/10
9 minutes | 6 months ago
Why You Always Want to Have an Updated CV
Hello, and welcome to this 2nd episode in a small series I’ve called: “Professional Development - Job Hunting and CVs”.In the previous episode (the one I called “Keep Your UN Career Open - Look for Jobs”) I talked about the importance of staying open to new opportunities. Regularly looking at vacancies and applying. You can find that episode at www.barbarakandersen.com/8.In that last episode, I also promised that I would share some guiding principles on CV writing, but while preparing for that I realised that there’s an important point I wanted to bring up first. And that is: Why you should always have an updated CV. So, here’s a short episode on that.The thing is, I’ve yet to meet a person who told me they enjoy CV writing. And I know that I certainly dreaded that task myself for many years. Maybe you recognize this situation:You have been in the same job for the last good many years. You made an effort when you dusted off your CV for the application for the job, you’re currently in. And then you were relieved to leave the CV at the bottom of your drawer once you had signed your contract. And it has stayed at the bottom of your drawer ever since. There was that situation a few years ago where somebody mentioned an interesting job you thought you ought to apply for. You were very busy at work at the time, but you decided you’d still give it a shot. But then you had to work late on the day of the application deadline. And when you thought about the updates you needed to do to your CV, you entirely lost steam – and confidence. And you decided that you just didn’t have the time (and honestly, you couldn’t muster the energy) to make the application. And so, you didn’t.Or maybe you recognize this situation: You applied for a job recently because it sounded really interesting and was a good match for your skills. And, lately, you’ve been feeling that it’s about time to move on. But you were so busy with work and so exhausted when you came home in the evening that it was hard to really put in the necessary time to update your old CV. So, in the end, all you had time and energy for was to add a paragraph about your current job experience and then throw in some keywords from the vacancy announcement. Hoping that it would still catch the eyes of the people doing the long listing. As you finished your CV with tired eyes shortly before midnight, you suddenly remembered that you learned in a seminar once that it’s important to write something about your key achievements in your CV… But you were so tired that you just knew that either the CV was going to be sent as it was – or you were not going to make it. So, you sent it off as it was. Hoping that the recruiters would still be able to spot what a hardworking and competent professional you are – just right for the job. But not actually feeling super professional in terms of the application you’d just made.What’s the problem?Well, the problem is that when your CV is not updated, that means you’re not ready to apply when an opportunity suddenly appears. And most times these opportunities are unexpected. It’s rare that we see great job opportunities appear on the horizon with plenty of time for us to get ourselves into gear and take half a day off (or more) to prepare.And the thing is, that when you can’t or don’t want to share your CV at short notice, that can unfortunately also leave you feeling a bit unprofessional.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/9
12 minutes | 6 months ago
Keep Your UN Career Open – Look for Jobs!
Hello, and welcome to this 1st episode in a small series I’ve called: “Professional Development - Job Hunting and CVs”!In the last episode, I suggested that you should prioritise time to work on your CV and keep yourself updated about vacancies. Even if you’re perfectly happy in your current job! So, in this and the next episode, I’ll delve into the CV and job-hunting sphere. When I speak to my clients, they often tell me that they think they ought to look for another job. But they just don’t feel they have the time because they’re so busy with their current job. And they’re exhausted at the end of the day, so they don’t get it done. Or, occasionally they see – or are pointed towards - a relevant job vacancy, but they find it hard to find the time to apply because their CV has not been updated in a long time and they know they really need to put some work in, in order to present themselves well.And they often tell me this with a slightly embarrassed smile. If you recognize this there’s nothing to be embarrassed about it. As you can hear it happens to many people and it’s totally natural. And I’ve certainly had that experience myself. That when I was in the most need of a change – I had the least energy to pursue it.We are so engrossed in what we’re doing in our daily life – performing in our current job – that CV writing and looking for other jobs seem to end up at the bottom of the to-do list.But then I discovered that our energy levels and what we think we have time for are a strangely fluid thing! I also spoke about this in episode 7 (the one I called “Are You Ready to Take Action in Your UN Career?” and which you can find on www.barbarakandersen.com/7).You can make time for applications and CV writing. If you decide it’s important. And maybe more importantly, if you decide that it’s something that you want to do because it will develop your career and professional life and make it more interesting.I have identified 5 reasons why you should be open for opportunities and scanning the job pages – even if you’re perfectly happy in your current job...Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/8.
10 minutes | 7 months ago
Are You Ready to Take Action in Your UN Career?
Hello, and welcome to this episode which is all about taking action!In all the episodes until now, I’ve offered you ways to reflect on what works and what doesn’t work in your career and work life. And then I’ve suggested that you look for and decide on action points. Big or small. So today, I’ll share some tips that will help you do exactly that: take action. Because it might seem like there’s so much you could do or should do? But how do you prioritise? How do you find the time and resources for taking action?You’re busy. I know! And I totally understand if it feels like you have enough on your plate. How can you possibly find time to do something new or different?But the strange thing is that when something is important enough, you find time for it. Or if it’s attractive enough. Or maybe just small and easy enough.Remember when you’ve been in love? How suddenly you always had time and energy to see or call your loved one. Even if you were crazy busy with work. But, Barbara, you might say - that was hormones doing their work! Or that you were younger, maybe? But still, somehow you managed to do more with the same amount of time. Because your priorities changed! And you felt a surge of energy, sure. But you can create that situation in other ways!If you think I’m a bit far out here, I have another example that I think anybody who’s a parent will be able to identify with: You get a call from the kindergarten. Your son had an accident on the playground. He’s bleeding from a small wound on his forehead and they think it’s best if he’s taken to the emergency room. Just to be on the safe side. Until this moment you were totally absorbed with your work duties for the day and your long to-do list. Now, suddenly you have no problem changing your priorities. There’s no question that you have to go to the emergency room. And you quickly prioritise what tasks can be dealt with by phone in the car, what can be handed over to a colleague – and what can simply be postponed or written off.What happened? All your work tasks are the same. But your thinking around the tasks and your prioritisation changed.You can make this happen yourself without accidents on the playground.So, if you know that there are things you want to take action on for your own UN Career Project, I’ll give you 3 simple and concrete steps to follow...Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/7.
12 minutes | 7 months ago
Pump your Wheel of Life and help your UN career!
Hello, and welcome to this episode which I’ve called “Pump your Wheel of Life and help your UN career!" (Alluding to my favourite career car analogy...)This episode belongs to the “What drives you and what drains you?” series and today we’re going to talk about drivers on a more existential level, you could say because we’re going to look at your whole life. Not just the work part.Because, often when we think about work and career, we think in a quite linear and traditional way. We think in interests (hopefully!) and ambitions, but also very much in terms of promotions, prestige, expectations and what not only we, but also our surroundings, think would be the appropriate or logical next step. But there are many other aspects to consider when making decisions around work. Because your job has to hang together with the rest of your life. And your family. One example is that a career in the UN often means living away from your family and your country and the culture you grew up in. Or it means that your partner and children travel with you and leaves your home country and extended family behind. This can be a wonderful and rich experience that helps you all grow and come closer to each other. But it also presents its own challenges. What does that mean for how you see your career? And what does it mean for your partner’s career and professional development?The reflection exercise I’m offering today is called “The Wheel of Life” and it offers a possibility of a 360-degree view of your work and private life combined. And it also offers insights into their influence and effect on each other. That can be both positive and negative. But the great thing is that once you see it, you can do something about it. Often, small changes can go a long way to create a new balance or positive effect. And then again, sometimes we realise that a bigger change, a bigger decision, is needed. Often, we had an idea already that this bigger decision was waiting to be made. But it’s easier to make those decisions when we see the realities clearly in front of our eyes and that helps us take action and move on.So, the wheel of life is an interesting reflection exercise that will often offer an additional angle on what’s important for you to consider when you make work and life decisions.And this is how you do it...Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/6.
12 minutes | 7 months ago
Are You Feeling Stuck in Your Career?
Hello, and welcome to today’s episode which is on a topic that probably ranks among the top 3 most burning issues among my clients. And it’s all about feeling stuck in your job.If you recognize this, it may be because you feel your career has plateaued. Maybe your duty station is saturated when it comes to relevant positions in your area. Or maybe you can’t – or won’t - move to a different duty station due to family reasons.There can be a feeling that you don’t have a way out. Or don’t see a way forward. You have worked hard for many years and maybe there’s also a feeling that recognition is lacking, or that you are being overlooked for opportunities - or in recruitment processes. When you’re stuck, there’s a feeling that you don’t have options. And that’s both frustrating and demotivating. It can feel like you’ve lost agency over your work life. And that’s a hard place to be in.I know the feeling of “stuckness” I’m not really sure that’s a word, but – here it is.I know that feeling because that was me too. I went through what felt like a long period of feeling stuck in my career. I worked with UNDP - in Human Resources - for many years, and I was very proud to be part of the UN. For a long time, I was very excited about my job and very motivated. But over time I started feeling a bit “tired”. Needing new experiences, new challenges.I knew it was time to start looking for new opportunities. But my duty station was saturated when it came to positions in my area. And truth be told, I wasn’t very mobile – which is of course an issue if you want a professional career in the UN. And work was busy, so I was struggling to find the energy and time to apply for jobs. And in that way, months and years went by and the easier thing seemed to be to stay with what I knew. And which was a very good job, I have to say! With a nice boss and nice colleagues. And a good pay.So, I was losing energy and momentum in terms of looking for – and noticing – options and opportunities for myself. I was clearly in a place where I could use some help.But unfortunately, it took me a long time before I realized that and took steps to get that help.In the meantime, I was lingering in a place of feeling stuck, and – honestly - a feeling that “someone” ought to help me move on in my career. That “someone” being the organisation or Human Resources or my supervisor. The way I heard about people being promoted or recommended for development opportunities in the private sector.And guess what? That’s just not really the way things work in the UN. And I knew that of course. I was working in Human Resources myself and regularly had conversations with staff about how to take ownership of their own career development. But I still secretly longed for that help because I felt like I’d gotten stuck myself.Long story short - in the end, I left and started my own business. Which is certainly an effective way of getting unstuck! But today I realise that there are many things I could have done while I was still with the UN. And I’ll share some of those with you.Time to regain your sense of power over your career developmentBecause you’re really the only one who can do it. You get unstuck by pulling yourself to a place of agency, action and taking control. Maybe just one step at a time. But one step after another will lead you out of “stuckness”. Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/5.
10 minutes | 8 months ago
How Was Your Career Journey?
In the previous episode, I talked about how you can learn a lot of details about what motivates you and what drains you from your daily work life. That was episode 3, which you can find at barbarakandersen.com/3.Today, I’ll show you how to take a long-distance view and get a bigger perspective. Because you’re going to take a look at (and hopefully appreciate!) everything you’ve done in your career so far. A Trip Down Memory LaneOne of the most popular exercises I use with my clients when we work on their career and work situation is one I call “The Career Journey”. My clients like it because it’s a very positive exercise that allows you to remember and rediscover all your achievements, the problems you’ve overcome, the challenges you worked through, the great people you met, etc.And I enjoy guiding my clients in the exercise because it invariably brings smiles to their eyes and pride in their voices when they take me through some of the important highlights of their career and life choices.The thing is, that in our day-to-day work we’re so busy focussing on all the boxes we still haven’t checked. The things on the to-do list we still haven’t done and everything else that’s not yet been achieved. And with our eyes fixed on that, we completely lose sight of everything that we have done, all the things we have achieved in life and work. The challenges we’ve overcome. The projects and tasks we succeeded in. When you shine a light on everything you’ve done in your past there’s normally a lot of pride, motivation and energy you can reap from it. Pride and energy that can help you in your journey going forward.And there is also a lot you can learn – or rediscover - about yourself. About your values, your strong and weak points, and the things that drive you. Things you really should take forward. Because the essential elements of your good work experiences (and the less great ones) are key also for what gives you a happy work-life today.Get CreativeIt’s a visual exercise and if you’re just a bit of the creative kind it’ll spark your artistic energies.But don’t worry, even if you don’t consider yourself creative at all, it’s an easy exercise that will give you a great overview. And this time you’ll do it all in one go – there’s no need to carry a log with you.Read the full show notes at www.barbarakandersen.com/4.
12 minutes | 8 months ago
What Drives You – And What Drains You?
Hello, and welcome to this second episode in a small series I’ve called: “What Drives You – And What Drains You?” And I thought that that would also be a fitting title for today’s episode.In the previous episode (the one I called “Your UN Career Project Starts Here” – which is episode number 2) I talked about how we can easily get so caught up in work and the struggles of daily life that we lose track of what we really want for ourselves. So, for many of us, we’ve gotten a bit out of touch – or maybe actually a lot out of touch - with the person we dreamed to be. And the professional life we dreamed to have when we started out in our career. Of course, what you want could have changed over the years. But do you ever set aside the time to reflect on what it is?Where are you going?Imagine that you’ve been driving your “career car” for a while now. You’ve been driving a bit fast because it feels like you’re late all the time. The traffic is dense and you’re starting to feel tired and in need of a break. You’re busy following the GPS instructions, so you’re not really noticing the direction you’re taking. And you’re no longer entirely sure what the address is that you put in? Or if that is still the place you want to go to? And with the weather conditions and the traffic – you’re also not completely sure that you’re even following the best route?So, this is your opportunity to pull over, get out of the car, have a good stretch, look at the map (remember those paper maps that you fold out to get an overview of the landscape?), and ponder the best way to go from here.Set aside a bit of time to put a spotlight on you and your dreams and ambitions for your UN Career.And the best way to start is by taking a good hard look at the present realities. To stay with the “career car” image, you need to know where you are right now in order to get the best use of the map.So, in the previous episode, I advocated that you should invest some time in collecting data for your “Project You” – your own personal UN Career Project. Just as you would if starting on a new work project.In essence, I recommended that you write down what you’re doing every half hour for at least a day – and preferably up to a week. And that you put a smiley next to each task or activity. Using happy smileys, neutral smileys and unhappy smileys.And if you did what I suggested last time, you then reviewed everything you wrote down - your log - and tried to think a bit like an anthropologist. Being curious and investigative about all the various activities you’d written down.I thought I would share that the reason why I recommend this exercise is that it’s very helpful for many of my clients. But also because it’s been enormously useful in my own life. I did it first time around 12 years back when I worked with a psychologist to get back to work after stress leave. There it helped me find the times of the day that were the most stressful for me and find solutions to those. And later I’ve used it exactly like we use it here today – to find out what were the tasks and actions in my work that gave me the most energy and made me feel good about myself when I left the office at the end of the day. And this became the starting point for the way I changed my own career tracks.Digging deeperSo, today, we’re going to go more into detail with the analysis of the data you collected – your log. And we’re going to start looking at what you can do to get more of “what drives you” and less of “what drains you”.Last time, I suggested that for each day you count how many happy smileys, neutral smileys and unhappy smileys you have... Go to Barbarakandersen.com/3 to see the full show notes.
8 minutes | 8 months ago
Your UN Career Project Starts Here
Hello, and welcome to the first episode in a small series I’ve called: What Drives You – And What Drains You? Most people I talk to are well into their careers. If you’re anything like them, you’ve had years of serious and hard study followed by years of trying to get into your chosen field and maybe your favourite organization. And at the same time, you may also be starting a family. So, life’s been busy. The days of lounging with your friends over coffee chatting and plotting your dream lives and careers probably seem very distant by now. The to do list is long, the meetings are many and there really seems to be no time to sit and contemplate career and life dreams. And you’re a grown-up now, so supposedly, you should have it all worked out, right?It’s just that, when pressed a bit, many I speak to don’t really feel that they have it all worked out. Career and work just sort of happened. There was – finally - an opening here, and then an extension there. You had wanted to move maybe, but then you were offered to be part of an interesting project and didn’t feel you could reject the opportunity. Or you had your first child and now stability became a big factor. And so, life happens. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Often, it’s great!But if you’re harbouring small feelings of: “I want something more” or: “I can’t continue like this many more years”. Then it’s time to take stock.And I’m a great advocate for taking stock! And for that, it’s very useful to have some concrete data to work with.Because you probably have some idea of things you really enjoy – or really dislike. But for many of us, a big part of our days and weeks happen in a bit of a blur. And those days and weeks are actually your life!So therefore, I want to suggest that you shed some light on those days and start collecting data you can use for your onward journey to create a happier career:How to Get Started on Project You1st step is to monitor yourself. Just like you’d monitor an important work project. And if a work project is worth some monitoring and data collection, you should be too. Treat yourself as “Project You”!Collecting Data for Project YouIt’s really very simple – just start with a pen and pad of paper. Or, if you want to get advanced, create an excel sheet or a word document with a couple of columns.Now write down, for a full day, what you’re doing about every half hour. Don’t only write work time but include also mornings and evenings. You don’t have to write lengthy paragraphs, but just putting in “work” or “meeting” won’t give you much to work with when you’re going to analyse your data later on.This will provide useful information in itself, but you may consider adding a bit of additional info: Next to every half-hour slot – or every activity – you put one of 3 smileys. Either a happy smiley, a neutral smiley or a sad smiley. Indicating whether you were feeling happy at the time, neutral or “so-so” – or unhappy.Writing down everything you do may sound incredibly boring and time consuming – and you’re already busy, right? But first of all, it takes only a few seconds every time you note down for the last half hour. The challenge is to remember to write down consistently, so a tip can be to set an alarm for yourself. My own preferred method is to make a table for myself, print it out and carry the piece of paper around with me. Otherwise I forget. And believe me, you won’t be able to remember in the evening, all the details of what you did in the day.And it shouldn’t be boring, because this is your life you’re observing...Find additional show notes at https://www.barbarakandersen.com/happy-un-career-podcast/episode-2/
6 minutes | 8 months ago
My UN Story and Why This Podcast
Hello – and welcome to the Happy UN Career Podcast!I look so much forward to be sharing guidance and advice with you on how to create that happy UN career. But first I thought I’d you give you a little bit of information about who I am – and why you should be listening to me.My Story With the UN I am Danish and I started out working in Human Resources in an international private sector business in Copenhagen way back in the 90’s. I loved the international environment, so when I saw a posting for a job in Human Resources at UNDP I was thrilled. And I felt so lucky and excited when I “got in”.I worked with UNDP from 2001 to 2014 and I loved to be part of this fabulous, multi-faceted world. It was thrilling to meet and work with colleagues, clients, and ministry counterparts from all over the world. It expanded my worldview in so many ways and really sparked both my personal and professional growth.I kept feeling proud of working for the UN. And I had great colleagues, great bosses and worked with so many wonderful and interesting people. It felt like such a privilege to be working in a place and with people that really strived for the greater good. But, boy – did I also sometimes feel frustrated with the bureaucracy that is an inherent part of a large multilateral organization. The politics and the hierarchy that seemed to have an influence on so many processes and decisions. Give Me That Promotion…And like almost everybody I speak to I really missed feeling that the organisation took an interest in me – from a career development perspective. We all know that in the UN, all processes have to be transparent. So there can be no promotion, no special advancements. And working in Human Resources this was the message I regularly passed on to all of the staff I was advising. But as far as I can judge, most of us longed for that promotion anyway…In the end, I decided it was time for me to leave and I started my own business. In my time with UNDP, career counseling and coaching were some of my favourite job responsibilities, and I have continued to do consulting for UN organizations, specializing in the area of career coaching and personal effectiveness. And with both my time in UNDP and the following years, I have gained so much – sometimes hard-earned – experience that I’d like to share.And then I decided to create this podcast. Happy UN Career.So, What Is That - A Happy UN Career? Well, of course that’s an individual thing for each of us, but for me it’s a career where:you are happy when you go to work in the morning – and feel satisfied and content when you go home again in the afternoon. At least most of the days!you get recognized for your hard work and effortsyou feel that you have ownership over your career – and you haven’t somehow signed that ownership over to this vague and impersonal thing: “the organization” you feel inspired and motivated – and where you get the personal and professional growth that you desire you have the agency and autonomy to make the decisions that are right for you and your familyyou create powerful options for yourselfSo, this podcast is made for YOU, a UN professional who loves the UN, the mandate, the multicultural aspect – but who also LONGS for a career and work-life that you love just as much.The podcast is going to focus on what YOU can do. Because I often meet highly skilled, intelligent, and talented people that strangely feel like victims of their job – or their organisations. Like they’ve lost their agency to take powerful action themselves.Find additional show notes at: https://www.barbarakandersen.com/happy-un-career-podcast/episode-1/
2 minutes | 8 months ago
What's the Happy UN Career Podcast All About?
When I talk to people in the UN, they often tell me something along these lines: “Working in the UN is a dream come true. I’m so proud to be here and to work for a cause that is close to my values and ideals. And I really enjoy and appreciate the multicultural environment. But…”They may be feeling stuck somehow. Unfulfilled maybe. Sometimes underappreciated. Often overwhelmed with the workload. There’s a feeling that they’re missing out on something. I know that feeling, because that was me too. I worked with UNDP - in Human Resources - for 13 years, and I was proud too. And I loved to be part of this interesting and multi-faceted world. But, I also often felt stuck in my career. In the end, I left and started my own consulting business. But there are many things I wish I’d done – or done differently - while I was still with UNDP. So, this podcast will have a lot of practical guidance and inspiration to help you create the UN Career you dream of. Episodes will cover topics such as:Grow your influence and your impactSharpen your goals and your focusImprove and leverage your network, and Raise your self-masteryWe’ll also explore how to improve important work relationships and create a balance between work and private life.In the meantime, start listening to episodes: go to https://www.barbarakandersen.com/happy-un-career-podcast/And don’t forget to subscribe on your favourite podcast app so you don’t miss out on anything!Happy UN Career Podcast is hosted by me, Barbara K Andersen, Career Strategist for UN Professionals. Take charge and have a great day!
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