Breakthrough Blog - Career Tips & Resources

As a career coach with over 15 years' experience, I have amassed some useful knowledge and quick tips which could help you:

  • get a job
  • keep a job
  • change jobs
  • retrain for a new career
  • get back on top after redundancy or illness
  • improve your work life balance

Please have a look around the articles and share them to friends and family if you find them useful.  If you'd like me to cover any specific topics, please shoot me an message from my contact page and I may include your suggestion as a new article.

How to make a transferable skills CV

Helen SlingsbyFri 21 Sep 2018 @ 13:35


I've been working with Abi and Adam this week. They come from completely different sectors and backgrounds but share a desire to switch careers and take their tranferable skills with them.

Richard has been working in estate agency and has a hankering to harness his photography and film making abilities to the world of TV and movie making. Abi has had years of running successful sales teams and is now looking at project management.

I advised both to think about the world they want to enter and what is required from it, and then to dice and splice their own relevant skills and experience to match what the new roles are looking for.

For Adam this was about identifying "bridging" jobs in film and TV, such as locations expert or production worker, where his transferrable skills would sit nicely with the new world. In this case, we were selling his understanding of the property market and his experience of working in fast-paced environments, large teams and meeting tight deadlines.

For Abi, it was about selling her experience of project managing sales campaigns, hitting targets and managing complex teams, that would open her up to  project management roles.

Selling these attributes at the top of the CV , after the contact details, gives the recruiter what they want in the 20 seconds they are prepared to  devote to a resume. It tells them, in this case, that Abi and Adam understand what is required of the job, and that the candidate has made the effort to provide the evidence that they can do it. Immediately the connection is made for the recruiter that the candidate gets it.

Here's Adam's pitch to  the creative world he wants to enter: 

Career Highlights

Collaboration: Understanding needs of different teams, communicating and adapting across roles, industries and personalities to ensure success.

Pressured environments: Priced & managed 13 different new build developments across London, properties in excess of £6 million; 9 managing teams and 4 solely. Managing time expectations to ensure crucial timings are achieved in the financial sector.

Digital: Production management of websites; skilled in Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Lightroom and Bridge, all linked to advanced photography. Quick to understand and interested to learn about new programmes.  

Workplace Adaptability: Working across and within many mediums; theatre & film, photography, financial print, property and events. This includes being a volunteer team member of teaching Shakespeare in numerous schools.


By the way, your work history, recent role first, then follows. 

I've had loads of success with this style of CV so if you'd like me to  help with yours, drop me a line at : [email protected]  to book a session. 



Find out your strengths and get ahead

Helen SlingsbyFri 1 Jun 2018 @ 14:26



Knowing what makes you tick is vital to making the right job and career choices. And knowing your strengths is part of this. Definitions differ, but essentially strengths are your natural talents, things that come naturally to you and do not require a huge amount of effort to exercise.

I was working with John earlier this week and it was a revelation to him to learn of his strengths as he lacks confidence, has worked largely in an interim capacity as an office manager and did not have a career plan – until now.  We used the At My Best strengths cards for this exercise which are highly visual and provide 48 examples of key talents.

Choosing these and seeing them written down and in front of him made John realise two things; that he has a completely unique set of strengths that distinguish him from the crowd - a confidence booster in itself, and that many of his talents; being adventurous, flexible, engaging, attentive and calm, are particularly relevant to  his ambition to work in the marine industry as a marina manager or a project manager.  

The exercise gave John the impetus and permission to start pursuing this ambition, harnessing his broad experience, technical know-how, passion for boats, and better understanding of what makes him tick.

As a post script , employers are increasingly using strengths to test and interview candidates - get ahead of the game. Book a session  with me. 


Case study : Vicar client successfully returns to the City

Helen SlingsbyFri 13 Apr 2018 @ 12:16


I've just finished a rewarding time coaching Robert, a former high flier in the City who acted on his calling from God and spent 13 years as a parish priest. He contacted me before Christmas saying his circumstances had changed and he need my help to return to the world of finance. This was my first time helping someone conduct a career switchback, or reverse career change and despite the different worlds involved, he's done it.

Much of this is clearly down to Robert's motivation and financial aptitude, but also to the transferrable skills he's gained as a vicar, and to my view that most jobs, particularly the softer skills, are the "same". For example, we are all required to communicate well, problem solve, manage projects, plan our time, meet deadlines and get on with people etc. 

  • Confidence coaching helped Robert recognise that he had retained, and developed, many of the skills and attributes required for a job back in the City. For example , in running church committee meetings and local fundraising sessions, he had "managed upwards" ( the Bishop) and worked with multiple stakeholders ( the parishioners). He had dealt with money every day and infact had become rather adept at raising money, to recruit a youth worker, in one instance. His presentation and people skills were always going to be good delivering weekly sermons and counselling his flock but so were his problem solving abilities, in getting around tricky hole in the roof-type situations connected to his Church.
  • With my help he was able to  express this succintly and relevantly in a cracking career change CV.
  • Sensibly, Robert was prepared to immerse himself into the world he wanted to return to and was coached to devise a networking plan to reconnect with ex-colleagues from his City days and refresh his knowledge on hiring  practices as well as new regulations and statutory requirements. It meant he was up to date for interviews and knew what to expect. 
  • Initially and understandably, he was a little rusty, but with interview coaching to help him see the bigger picture and refine his why are you leaving the church story, he has landed a role with a large financial regulator and is very happy.  

 So if you are thinking about career change or career reinvention take heart from this story and do get in touch with me for help : [email protected]


Use a career coach not another company training programme

Helen SlingsbyWed 21 Mar 2018 @ 12:09


Declaring an interest here, as I am career coach, but it's true that companies are wasting money on ill-thought out, generic employee training programmes when one-to-one career management coaching with individual employees would work so much better in building engagement, alleviating staff churn and improving peformance. It would also be cheaper. As explained in this Fast Company article, Your Company Needs an In-house Career Coach, Not Another Training Program, expenditure on training programmes is on the rise, but is staff engagement? According to McKinsey researchers only one in four employers thought these courses were worthwhile.

While some corporate, personal/professional development or awayday courses are great and worth every penny, most prompt us to ask why did we take a day out of the office for that ?  We had little connection to the material being delivered and ultimately felt the whole event was a sticking plaster or box ticking exercise.

Is a day spent making a video dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz ( yes it happended) really going to make the team more cohesive and effective, and individuals more engaged and fpcused? 

Wouldn't a programme of sessions with a neutral career coach actively listening to and coaching employees around their career development render better results? Wouldn't those team members feel heard and rejevenated by this? Wouldn't they appreciate plan of action that looks at their future both within and without that organisation?  Helping staff to manage their career does not mean they will jump ship, indeed my clients tend to stay with their organisations after coming to see me for help. They just gain the clarity that is necessary for them to move forward.

Check out coach's day rates, they're affordable and they can see mutiple people in a single day. Alternatively, as most are self employed, they can work part time on a retainer for your organsation, being available for staff, but not part of the organisation and thus retaining the objectivity and bird's eye view that is so necessary in these situations. 



Be your own career coach

Helen SlingsbySat 17 Mar 2018 @ 11:10


Great article in the Harvard Business Review  providing six ways to manage your career, to be your own career coach and future-proof your career. It's something I strongly encourage in my clients and it's highly relevant for today's employment market where jobs are no longer for life and thus career "progression" is not a given. Instead it is down to  us to  review, plan and decide what next, often with the help of a careers consultant.

The article features more specifically on taking steps within organisations to get noticed, develop and reach clear goals so here are my additional pointers to reinventing your career and developing career resilience:  

  • Create space to question the status quo  to  ask is this job/career still for me, does it match my values, am I still engaged in what I do, should I be exploiting other skills, do I see myself leading large teams for the rest of my working life , what would I rather be doing? 
  • Research what now fires you up if the answer to your questions suggests it's time to  move on 
  • Test the water once you have some ideas rather than jumping straight in. Volunteering, or shadowing someone who works in the area that's taking your fancy  is a great way to see if it's for you, before committing
  • Go for it! We only have one life, and it's for living