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Interview with Anton Fishman on Mentoring with the Emerging Occ Psychs Initiative

By Amanda Lopes Pacca

The interview with the HR & Talent Tech Start-up Advisor, AI Educator, & Organisational Consultant Anton Fishman went beyond the expected limits – it was an enriching dialogue for future mentors and mentees who want to participate in the mentoring program developed by PsychologyAtWork.blog team. 

With honesty and good humor, Anton Fishman brought an experienced and wise look at the process of being a mentor, especially with his experience with two mentees in the first year of the programme. Several points were emphasized, the positive and negative aspects, proposals for improvement, interpersonal relationships, personal and professional gains, and even advice for those interested in participating in the program, either as mentors or mentees. 

So … read the post until the end to find out if the programme fits you and why applying to it could benefit your career. 

Anton’s blending approach of moments acting as a coach and others as a mentor was a favorable mix. Through his coaching experience of over 30 years, Anton showed that although he is comfortable and prepared to perform this role, it is always very satisfying and enjoyable to be with new and diverse people. When I questioned him about what he could take away from the programme, he reported that he could say it was remembering the pleasure that is to exercise the activity of mentoring.

We know that we can learn in various ways in life, and we often consider that learning means gaining something new, which has never been acquired before, be it knowledge, experience, etc. We can say that Anton showed us in this case that learning goes beyond the new because in daily life and in the activities that one already has practice, it is possible to continue with the pleasure and the learning process. In the old, new looks and perceptions about the same situations can always arise. It is like reading classicals, in different moments of our lives we can always read them again and have new perceptions. 

In Anton’s case, the remembrance of the pleasure of the practice and the choice for a life was present in this process. It is the practice allied to a continuous process that can provide varied emotions even through the same activities. The beauty of life is really in this, in finding reasons and purpose in our choices. Feeling, as Anton said, that he has something of value to say, especially with the younger generation, was relevant together with the fact of feeling useful. I believe this is something every human being desires, being useful on what they do or to others. 

The world’s beauty is not in statements of right and wrong but in the conscious exchange between individuals and generations and the development opportunities that can arise from this process. 

Anton also reflected on the importance of knowing when to give advice that is propitious for certain situations, and when not, something that can only be learned through the practice of the profession and with the famous dose of daily effort. The awareness needed to know the right moment to act is something he brought to the reflection for the future mentors of the programme. 

Professionals will develop these insights, awareness, and the sensitivity of acting in the field over time. And our mentoring programme can help you with the development of some competencies.

Finally, Anton also left us with a challenge, the knowing process of integrating theory with the real world. Famous in the academic world, the scientist-practitioner model debate is present. The theory is essential, but knowing how to integrate it into practice becomes central to the sustainable development of society and the resolution of its problems and limitations. As Anton said, making the transition from knowledge and insight to knowledge application into working practices. 

He leaves these challenges for readers to reflect, think, and try to find ways to apply this complex action in their professional and real lives. I don’t know how you readers felt reading about the interview so far, but for me it was like a little taste of the mentoring sessions, and great reflections that can come out of it.

About the advice for mentors and mentees, Anton, in his own words, leaves the following message:

“If you want to be a mentor, commit to that, do it, because it is professionally rewarding, it’s about empowering and helping to establish the next generations of applied psychology.”

We created better conditions to think and develop ourselves also in contact with people and through having different experiences. Suppose you are interested in applying to be a mentor and mentee. In that case, I wish you a fantastic journey and a path that can provide you with learning, a solid and aggregating network of relationships. 

Note: The team PsychologyAtWork.blog would like to thank Anton Fishman for his interview and participating as a mentor in the first year of the Occ mentoring programme. The interview is available on the youtube channel of the Psychology at Work team. The links are below if you would like to join the programme as a mentor, a mentee, or watch the interview. 

Link to apply to be a mentor: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EOPMentorYear2

Link to apply to be a mentee: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EOPMenteeYear2

Link of the youtube interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi4UeXfp6ZA

About the Author

Amanda is a final year student of the WOP-P Master in Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology. Brazilian by birth, her journey into psychology began before she graduated, at the age of 17, when she came into contact with Psychoanalysis. From then on, her passion for understanding the human mind expanded, and she graduated in Psychological Sciences at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. In her last year to become an occupational psychologist, her topics of interest cross all human nature, including leadership, psychological empowerment, emotional health, and mental problems. Her hope of contributing to the blog is that this vast universe of psychology could be accessible to as many people as possible through writing. Psychology has a long past but a short history. In this sense, psychology professionals owe it to the world of psychology and its precious knowledge to expand that so more people can think better about themselves, the world, and their desires.

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Wrap up of the First Emerging Occ Psych Programme and Future Directions

By Amanda Lopes Pacca

Closing of the first cohort and what’s next?

Our session started with love, enthusiasm, and openness. Our team witnessed this: the frankness and honesty with which the participants gave us feedback and participated in our closing celebration.

Some of the positive feedback talks include the experience of meaningful connection with different individuals, networking, and fruitful discussion with professionals interested in your working life and how they can help you improve it.

All of the programme was developed with transparency and constant care to promote the best experience for young and older career professionals. I can state with certainty the mission of this team: to provide opportunities for human beings to develop professionally and humanly and to find new paths.

In this sense, the PsychologyAtWork.blog team celebrated. At the same time that we are closing a cycle – working with much “sweat” and dedication – we are opening the doors to a new time.

It’s time to grow and expand this incredible work, which already in the first edition influenced many professionals in many ways – in the middle of the pandemic.

We are living in confusing times – but our team is trying to bring hope again. With time, the path taken into the professional world demands the subject and gives him the most diverse experiences. But there is hope, and it begins with a dream. That’s why our “Emerging Occ Psychs” mentoring program is launching its second cohort – with the possibility to enjoy and learn from professionals in the field of occupational psychology work, bringing you hope and helping you with your dreams. 

Besides that, we will bring more structure, more dissemination through social networks, building interactions, and interviewing specialists about varied themes that you can also contribute. Furthermore, we will make improvements concerning our “Emerging Occ Psychs” mentoring program. Adjustments will be made based on the participants’ feedback to provide you an experience that pushes you into the professional world and enables you to improve yourself in diverse areas.

The expansion of consciousness happens through knowledge. It is the dissemination of this knowledge that motivates us to go further. We have considered all the feedback from the first year, and we will improve it thoroughly for the second year of this journey.

Are you ready? We hope that we can count on you. Look inside yourself and speak out. Our mission is to make you feel belong to the profession. Come share or teach in events, mentoring programs and help the world understand the richness of psychology for humanity.

We will soon put our news into practice! Contact us and seek in knowledge the possible choices to be made every day in your daily life.

About the Author

Amanda Lopes Pacca

Amanda is a final year student of the WOP-P Master in Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology. Brazilian by birth, her journey into psychology began before she graduated, at the age of 17, when she came into contact with Psychoanalysis. From then on, her passion for understanding the human mind expanded, and she graduated in Psychological Sciences at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. In her last year to become an occupational psychologist, her topics of interest cross all human nature, including leadership, psychological empowerment, emotional health, and mental problems. Her hope of contributing to the blog is that this vast universe of psychology could be accessible to as many people as possible through writing. Psychology has a long past but a short history. In this sense, psychology professionals owe it to the world of psychology and its precious knowledge to expand that so more people can think better about themselves, the world, and their desires.

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Psychological Safety in the Workplace: All we Need?

By Amanda Lopes Pacca

PsychologyAtWork.blog promoted a BeTalent session about psychological safety, exciting aspects, exercises, and breakout rooms that make the participants think outside the box about such an important subject. The session was hosted by Dr Amanda Potter, Tina McCarty and Cleme Lewis, and explored some of the unique challenges of driving psychological safety in a hybrid working environment. But for those who could not come, let’s summarise a little bit the main aspects of the event to give you the possibility of realizing this essential construct.

And as I know, this post will leave you with more questions than answers, which is ideal in the world of psychology – where there are no absolute truths, but attempts at a profound expansion of knowledge – in search of individual, collective, and world well-being. But in this case, we will deal with safety in the workplace, so what is psychological safety?

According to Amy Edmondson (1999), it is a climate at work where individuals feel comfortable and free to speak up, as they feel that the work environment receives their voice in a good way and there is permission for candour.

But looking to the real world, we realize that not all environments are conducive to interpersonal risk. In some cases, professionals are encouraged to expose themselves; in others not. However, the reaction to this exposure often does not make them feel safe to continue the action and do it again. In this sense, the climate that is generated is not safe.

According to Edgar Schein, Warren Bennis, and Amy Edmondson, psychological safety could be linked to business impact. Since it increases engagement and high performance, enhancing different learning and knowledge sharing mechanisms, innovation, employee well-being, problem-solving, error reporting, and a sense of belonging.

Imagine all these as positive consequences in the organizational environment of individual and group decisions, of human actions that promote the climate of psychological safety and allow everyone to benefit from that state.

As Psychological Safety is a climate, it is also related to culture, as the organization’s values and norms define the climate. However, changing culture is challenging, as it takes years to develop. It is important to think long-term and work every day to make changes in culture if necessary. However, it is also essential to think short-term, which comprises the climate- the employees’ perceptions or feelings about the work environment. In a way, long-term changes occurred through habits developed in the present and carried out every day in the short term. This dynamic of present and future time intertwines and works together within the organizational environment.

But as the climate is associated with people’s feelings, he could change quickly. That is the importance of psychological safety and an open environment where employees can feel that they have a voice to express themselves and that they are heard. This climate is not about saying what the employee wants to hear and being complacent. The truth is the real path and the best way to help someone- and sometimes are not “nice.” But they are necessary for the growth of the individual and the organization itself.

Sharing different experiences and communicating is important to understand how people feel and want to be listened to, the needed changes, and new ways of bringing this psychological safety at the workplace.

BeTalent is a management consulting specializing in Talent platform, products, and assessments with a model of psychological safety discussed in the event. In that model, with the division in teams where psychological safety exists and not, it is possible to realize different characteristics such as courage, inclusion, trust, and appreciation to each other versus seeking consistency, being nice all the time, having relentless expectations, etc.

The fact is that human beings are complex, and not everything is “black and white.” When we approach the universe of the human mind in psychology, we have to understand that nothing is simple. The creation of a psychological safety environment for the teams demands action. According to BeTalent, it comprises challenging your assumptions, asking why, and asking about the wider consequences.

That means that the individual has to act through it and have an open mind to learn and not be afraid of failure or even “asking silly questions.” The fact is: to express your feelings and be truthful with yourself and your beliefs; there are no silly questions- just important ones. And the first one to know that should be the owner of the questions- yourself. Also, if you ask, maybe more people will be encouraged to do so, changing the climate and consequently the psychological safety at the workplace. You can be an essential person to contribute. Don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen and for the company to offer you that climate of safety. Use the power of your action and your daily choices to help build an environment in which you can live in a psychologically comfortable way.

About the Author

Amanda Lopes Pacca

Amanda is a final year student of the WOP-P Master in Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology. Brazilian by birth, her journey into psychology began before she graduated, at the age of 17, when she came into contact with Psychoanalysis. From then on, her passion for understanding the human mind expanded, and she graduated in Psychological Sciences at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. In her last year to become an occupational psychologist, her topics of interest cross all human nature, including leadership, psychological empowerment, emotional health, and mental problems. Her hope of contributing to the blog is that this vast universe of psychology could be accessible to as many people as possible through writing. Psychology has a long past but a short history. In this sense, psychology professionals owe it to the world of psychology and its precious knowledge to expand that so more people can think better about themselves, the world, and their desires.

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Student

Tips for OP Students

Being a student in psychology comes with its own challenges and opportunities, so we had a wonderful discussion on LinkedIn with people sharing their words of advice and wisdom on navigating this wonderful time at uni. Here is a selection of just some of the wonderful comments (presented with permission from the authors):

Julia E Knight, Work & Org Psychologist

Take the opportunity to use the resources available to you at Uni…. whether psychology-related or not! Join clubs and societies, explore the library (in reality or virtually), check-out the students’ union, talk to your lecturers outside formal classes. And have fun!

Andrea Nica, Pursing an MSc in Forensic Psychology

Get involved in everything that comes across your road, challenge yourself! I am grateful I did that as I learnt a lot by going for internships and by getting involved in activities within the school of psychology.

I would also advise these students to not get demotivated if they get low grades at first. I got 48 on my first essay and wanted to quit! But then in my second year I started getting firsts because I learnt what I’m supposed to do and how to write a great essay. I learnt to not be harsh to myself and allow some time to learn.

Jeremy Read, Organisational Development

Don’t feel intimated by the academic papers. The authors have to write in a certain way due to the academia/research paper system. The authors behind the papers are humans and share your suffering of the writing style.

Shaid Snowdon, Community Support Worker

1) Follow your interests outside of teaching time, whether it’s in your leisure time or work related to psychology (not difficult as psychology is relatable in so many ways to so many different applications!).

2) So much of what you do during the next 3-4 years may steer you in new directions depending on what interests you follow and what opportunities you may decide to take. So, give voluntary experience a chance as any experience in the field may pay off in the future, through connections, job opportunities & more! It’s important to be paid for what you do of course, but some invaluable experience can be found in the most unlikely of (even unpaid) positions.

3) Remember that the decisions that you make when leading to a future in psychology is what makes you unique, and extracurricular experience may give you a particular edge over somebody who takes their degree but does not apply their time wisely!

Erik Beaumont, Systemic Organisational Development & Psychology

1. Everything you are taught is useless once you are out in the real world. Practical experience is everything, finding the real stuff is everything else.

2. Everything you are taught is essential for surviving in the real world while you get said practical experience and find the stuff that you really need.

3. Almost every text written by all the old pioneers is full of stuff that is offensive, confused, rigid and sometimes borderline blasphemous. It also is the key to understanding much of the new stuff. They also are inevitably badly translated, which means the stuff you are reading probably wasn’t what the authors meant, unless you read it in the original, at which point you are far more serious about this than you should be at your age.

4. You have chosen one of the very, very few professions that are not in direct danger of being replaced by AI anytime soon. Good choice! Also, they just figured out how to give AI memory, so maybe 4. no longer applies.

5. Don’t specialize until you are certain, it is never too late to specialize and almost always difficult to un-specialize. But definitely specialize as soon as you can, because that is where the joy, accolades, glory, fame and fortune lie. Or so I am told.

Tiffani Foster, Recruiter

1. You’ll need to get at least a master’s degree. Prepare now and you’ll be fine.

2. (Most important) If you have to take a statistics class, pay attention for the love of all that is holy PAY ATTENTION! Understanding stats will open doors career wise.

Carly Scholes, Workforce Strategy & Culture

1. Start thinking of lectures less as about absorbing information to remember for exams and more about discovering new ways of seeing the world, making connections between different things you’ve learnt and getting inspired.

2. Despite what some people would have you believe, it’s not a given that you’ll hate stats.

3. A trick when writing essays is to start by getting words on paper, even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever written, then edit! The hardest part of any written assignment is staring at a blank Word document – get words on the page, preferably early on, so you don’t procrastinate. If you start well in advance of the deadline, you can fit in days when you sit write at all and that’s when the best ideas come 🙂

Edel Quinn, Business Psychologist

1. It’s meant to feel ambiguous and confusing sometimes, there’s no ‘right’ theory.

2. Academia is elitist – don’t be put off if you feel like you don’t fit the mould (that’s a good thing!) and others around you will feel the same – even if they don’t say it.

3. Ask for practice-based examples if something is confusing ‘what does this look like in action?”

Abigail Tennant MSc Occ and Org Psych

Make the most of every opportunity. Network! Never doubt yourself. Enjoy and seek support when needed (it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, trust me it’s the best thing I did).”

Nikita Mikhailov, Chief Neuroticism officer

1. There will be many many subjects presented in your lectures so when you ever find a particular subject interesting e.g. Autism, Trust between pilots, – pursue that interest (even if you don’t know how it will lead to a career just yet)

2. Try to connect theory to practice, so when you find a subject that is of interest to you, reach out to people in the field who are already doing this, Linkedin is a great place to do this and just send them the invite, (below is template) and have a chat, because it is fascinating how theoretical knowledge is applied in the world.

3. Have fun, be curious about yourself and people around you as psychology is not something that lives in the classroom or a book or even Google Scholar but it is in every aspect of our lives and how we see the world around us.

4. Don’t obsess about the final grade and the thesis as you are already a member of the profession and enjoy the next 3-4 years as you take your first steps in this wonderful field!

5. Take care of yourself and others, and if you ever need a bit of help, please do ask.

Template LinkedIn message:

Hello Wendy,

It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

My name is Nikita and I am studying psychology and I find the area of psychometrics and assessments fascinating. It would be great to connect on LinkedIn, and would you possibly have a few minutes to spare for a call as it be wonderful to find out from someone who is working in the field of how psychometry is applied and practiced.

Thank you very much in advance.

Nikita

(Please change the names and topic of interest, unless your name is Nikita and you are writing to Wendy about psychometrics…. that’s quite a few variables right there).

For more pearls of wisdom visit the following link:

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nikitamikhailov_psychology-activity-6713726547771105280-28wR

About the Author

Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

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Being an Independent OP

Ever considered going independent? How about setting up your own consultancy? These are ideas and thoughts that cross most practitioners’ minds at some point or other. So, what are the top tips on actually doing so? Here are a few we gathered from a recent LinkedIn discussion (published with permission from the authors).

Steve Chapman

www.canscorpionssmoke.com

www.linkedin.com/in/stevegchapman

  • Work out what you are really, really interested* in.
  • Spend as much time as possible being interested in it.
  • Find and hang out with others who are really, really interested in it.
  • The rest sorts itself out.

* “Interested” means a real deep passion and insatiable curiosity. Not a vague subject. But something you’d run across a busy motorway to be interested in!

Martin Colinson

https://www.enablingtalent.com/

www.linkedin.com/in/martin-collinson-07b7974

  • Be really clear about how you can add value
  • Be really clear about how much that value is, and how much of it is rightfully yours
  • Be really clear in your messaging about both of those things
  • Look for people to collaborate with
  • Drop me a line

Gordon Curphy

http://www.curphyleadershipsolutions.com/

http://www.therocketmodel.com/

www.linkedin.com/in/gordoncurphy

As someone who has been independent for so long that they are no longer employable, here are seven thoughts about starting up your own consulting business:

  • Most people do not get trained on how to market or sell their services in graduate school, yet this differentiates high from low income consultants. Facts tell, but stories sell.
  • Understand it takes 12-18 months of effort before winning business with new clients. This time frame can be shortened if you have already established relationships with key contacts.
  • The bigger the net, the more fish you’ll catch. Use LinkedIn to make connections with potential clients.
  • New consultants spend too much time building relationships with “below the line” contacts. These individuals can say no to proposals but are not empowered to say yes. Identify and build relationships with those who control the purse strings.
  • Land and expand. Most clients have multiple needs, and a broad range of consulting skills improves the odds you’ll be given more work once you’ve delivered a project.
  • Cash flow is more important than revenues when running a small business.
  • Have a rainy-day fund. There will be times where there is little income, often due to no fault of your own

Hayley Lewis

https://halopsychology.com/ 

www.linkedin.com/in/hajlewis

  • Be clear on who your target audience is. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people.
  • Embrace your uniqueness. There is only one you. While we can learn from what others are doing, don’t copy them. People hire people so be open about what you’re about and why people should work with you. It’s okay to have a personality 😀
  • If you don’t have a strong digital presence, get that sorted ASAP. Write, draw, vlog, podcast – whatever works for you. Around 50% of my work now comes off the back of content I’ve shared online. Get posting!

Nikita Mikhailov

www.linkedin.com/in/nikitamikhailov

  • You can be independent and still continue looking for a full-time job
  • Minimal viable product – instead of going for the website, branding all that stuff before starting practicing go for what you really need – Updated LinkedIn and professional indemnity insurance ( soothes my Neuroticism) then you can build everything else as you go along
  • Its not necessarily about the new and shiny clients – make a list of 3 people you really enjoyed working with in the past and reach out to them for a catch up and at the end of the conversation ask if there is anyone in their network that it would be of benefit for you to chat to. Great, done that! now make a list of three more 🙂
  • Have working hours, sometimes it can get hectic and you never switch off because maybe there is an email or a LinkedIn message which will lead to the next project, and there might be but it can wait till tomorrow morning, and there are more fun things to do in evenings than Linkedin (well that’s what I keep telling myself)
  • Ask for help from your network and community cause no way anyone can make it right now on their own

Rob Williams

www.robwilliamsassessment.com

www.linkedin.com/in/robwilliamsassessment

Firstly be authentic. The freedom of working independently allows you the space to find your own voice 2) Whenever possible, favour those clients and projects you like best. 3) As soon as you can specialise in profitable business streams which you both enjoy and have a proven track record in. Good luck!

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences and wisdom on this 🙂

About the Author

Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

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Developing a Commercial Mindset

By Simon Toms, Nikita Mikhailov & Hardeep Virdi

Occupational Psychology is a fascinating and fast-growing discipline. It adopts a scientific evidence-based approach to help individuals and organisations alike. It exists as a longstanding academic discipline with a demonstrable positive impact that has helped identify and address an extensive list of workplaces challenges and opportunities.

Over the years, this has translated into a strong demand for OP practitioners and the services they can provide. The most common route to this role is completion of a master’s degree in OP or a related field. Yet transitioning between these positions can prove difficult.

One reason is that practitioners may potentially lack a commercial mindset. Developing a commercial mindset is an essential requirement for anyone looking to apply OP to the world of work, when working in any sector, industry, private company or public organisations. Commercial mindset can simply be defined as “the knowledge of the business and industry your role operates in. When applied to work it shows if you have a deep understanding of the commercial models and strategies that underpin the business, product or service you provide” (CIPD, 2018).

As practitioners, we’ve decided to put our heads together and create a short blog detailing how this mindset can be developed and cultivated to become one pillar of your success as a practitioner.

We’ll begin by focussing on early-career OP’s, before discussing the importance of a commercial mindset more broadly.

Starting your journey

Whilst some MSc graduates will begin PhD’s soon after, the vast majority will not. Instead, graduates will find themselves job hunting in an extremely competitive job market. OP has a breadth of applications, so the ‘next step’ could look like a great many things.

Working as a practitioner – potentially in an OP-related consultancy – is one such step and is highly sought after by graduates. Yet moving from academia to a practitioner role represents a significant shift. One way to perceive this change is a move from research and theory to application and client service. A strong commercial mindset sits at the core of this shift.

This becomes clear when considering your prospective employer. As with any business, consultancies must adopt a commercial mindset to survive. It may seem crass to some, but revenue generation and business development will likely become part of your professional responsibility moving forward.

This isn’t to say that making money must always be at the forefront of your mind! But it should be a key part of your thinking. This may seem obvious to some, but this can prove difficult for others with limited employment experience outside of their education.

This lack of understanding in more inexperienced graduates can become apparent when they engage with prospective employers for the first time. Demonstrating your understanding of the discipline is important, but this is already well evidenced by your possession of a relevant degree.

Your qualifications have likely played a pivotal role in getting you to the latter stages of a recruitment process, but you’ll likely be up against individuals with similar achievements on paper. Prospective employers will be looking for more, and your chances of giving it to them will be improved by adopting a commercial mindset.

Interviewing for roles

A job interview is a great situation to demonstrate commercial mindset, even when you have limited or no experience. It’s important to discuss what you’ve achieved – interviews are not the time to display false modesty – but you also need to demonstrate why a prospective employer should hire you for the role. When putting forward your case, it’s helpful to consider some important questions that can help you demonstrate commercial awareness:

  • What products and services does the employer provide?
  • What is the science and literature underpinning these products and services?
  • What is the marketplace like for these services and products?
  • What are the typical clients of these products and services, and how do they decide which providers to engage with?
  • Who are the competitors of the prospective employer?
  • What is the client journey, and at which point will you be involved?
  • What skills, abilities and knowledge will you require to fill the role, and if you don’t have them, how will you attain them?

Questions like these will stem from a commercial mindset, so if they don’t spring to mind, you need to broaden your perspective as to how you perceive OP and your role in it. Doing so will raise your awareness of OP as a commercial enterprise that provides products and services to clients, and not just as an academic discipline.

If you are able to effectively communicate this to prospective employers, you will also be able to effectively communicate this to potential clients. That will make you valuable and desirable as a prospective candidate in an increasingly competitive job market.

This value will become increasingly apparent as you progress in your roles, none more so than in the context of consultancy projects.

Applying a commercial mindset to consultancy projects

The first step in any consultancy project is to listen to client’s needs. Truly listening is not always easy to do and for many is one of the most difficult things to do. It involves understanding the current situation the client finds themselves in and what challenges they feel they currently need to address, asking questions to better understand the options that are available to them and where most your skill and expertise can be utilised to work with the client for them to achieve their goals of the project. Some tips on listening:

  • Don’t interrupt (especially hard for the more extraverted of us)
  • Use open-ended questions to gain further insights than what is required
  • Before proposing a course of actions, just check you heard what the client said and giving them an option to add anything else
  • When asking is there anything else they want to add, or the “Is there any questions?” count to at least 10 inside your head before saying anything

As one of my colleagues says:

“If the client comes out of the meeting, feeling as they were heard, that’s half the task done!”

About the Authors

Simon Toms is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In 2019, he was elected to Full Membership of the Division of Occupational Psychology. He is also a Chartered Scientist with the Science Council, Principal Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology, published author, and PhD graduate. He is a graduate of the Division of Occupational Psychology’s Leadership Development Programme.

Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Hardeep Virdi is an established Senior Learning & Development professional who has built her career working internally within organisations as a Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Specialist in Leadership Development, Talent & Succession Development, Executive 1:1 and team based coaching, and development based Psychometrics. Mainly working with Executive Boards/Senior levels in global matrix, complex and diverse organisations.

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3 Ways to make the most of your MSc Dissertation

By Simon Toms

Achieving a Master’s degree is a massive accomplishment. It reflects a level of education few people reach and demands a range of skills and knowledge to be honed at a high level. OP-related MSc’s are no exception.

OP is a diverse field with a variety of applications. Areas include personnel assessment, organisational development, staff wellbeing, coaching and leadership to name just a few, and an MSc must provide students with insight into all of these and more.

Sitting within this diverse range of study is the dissertation. A culmination of many months of hard work, dissertations contribute a significant portion of your MSc grade. Whilst many people view their dissertation entirely within these terms, it’s important to note that the benefits of your dissertation can extend well beyond MSc course credits.

We’ve compiled a short list of tips on how MSc students can maximise the impact of their dissertations. But before sharing them, a couple of points must be made.

The first is that your dissertation says a great deal about you and your interests. Students would have received the same taught content as their course peers, and BPS accreditation ensures significant inter-university alignment in terms of OP course subject matter.

This means that the topic of your dissertation is arguably the strongest factor differentiating you from your peers.

The second point is to challenge the mindset many students develop throughout their education. At every stage, you have probably been surrounded by peers who were likely to be at a similar level to you, and your MSc would have been no exception. This is usually a great thing. You can share experiences with course mates and engage in mutual learning with others possessing similar interests.

But there is a downside…

It can serve to dampen your understanding of how far your education has taken you, and how much knowledge you now possess in relation to the general population. This mindset is exacerbated by your ‘graduation’, which can make you feel like you are ‘starting from scratch’ in the world of work.

Whilst continuing to learn, develop, and build experience is essential, you must also recognise that your educational achievements already make you a valuable resource.

The knowledge and skills you have built in the context of your dissertation are the strongest manifestation of this value and should serve as a focal point in the early stages of you OP career.

With these points in mind, here’s three tips for making you MSc dissertation go further.

Online Engagement

Developing an online presence is more important than ever. Starting is easy and should involve following anyone working in your areas of interest. This will not only help you stay connected to developments in your desired field of work but facilitate future engagement with important people.

Your dissertation represents a rich vein of content in which this engagement could draw from. Explore ways of disseminating the lessons you learned in your research. These can include uploading a series of short blog pieces that breakdown the key themes of your dissertation or engaging interested parties in online discussions with useful insight resulting from your studies.

The most important platform to engage through is LinkedIn, although twitter represents another option. You can even consider creating your own website. Trust us, this is easier than you think!

Whilst the benefits may not immediately become apparent, your online presence could be the most critical factor in furthering your career. Building your profile makes your achievements and expertise easily accessible. It can help the people you need to impress see you, and what you’ve accomplished, at the click of a button.

Present at a Conference

Conferences represent a great resource for psychologists at every stage of their career. They can facilitate hugely advantageous formal and informal networking opportunities, and allow you to hear from a range of thought leaders and researchers in OP and other related fields.

Your dissertation can also allow you to play an active role as a presenter. Events can offer a range of format options. Longer-form options like standard papers and symposiums are one option, but less demanding formats like ‘impact papers’ and posters are also available.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events, and if one takes your fancy, make sure you read the submission guidelines with a fine-tooth comb! Even if your findings will not be ready by the submission deadline, it can still be worth submitting, as reviewers may be flexible on this.

Recent restrictions resulting from the global pandemic have put a temporary hiatus on face-to-face events, but a huge growth in virtual events has filled the void. This removes one of the most prohibitive factors in attending events: the cost of travel and accommodation.

Ironically, this means that there may be no better time to maximise your dissertation’s impact by getting a conference presentation under your belt!

Publish!

Publishing your dissertation can massively increase its exposure. It can mean the difference between several readers, or several hundred. It’s obviously preferable to maximise your readership, but how?

There are several options for publication open to you. The gold standard for a publication would be in a peer-reviewed academic journal. This option will be reserved for the very best dissertations and may benefit from involving academics with expertise in your topic as co-authors.

Other, more accessible options are available. There are several OP-related publications you could consider; the BPS journal ‘OP Matters’ is a great example. You can also explore industry-specific publications. These will depend on the content and focus of your research and can help you engage with individuals who are best placed to implement lessons emerging from your findings.

Publishing your work not only builds your reputation. It can develop your ability to communicate effectively and professionally. The primary example is writing, which is not a linear skill. There are various styles, and improvements in one style are not necessarily mirrored in others. Your MSc will have trained you to write in an academic style, and whilst this has notable strengths, it may not be best suited to each situation.

When publishing your work, you must consider the requirements and style of the publication, in addition to the target audience. If you’re speaking to practitioners, provide recommended implementations. If you’re speaking to non-psychologists, reflect this in the accessibility of your writing.

Adapting your communication style is an essential skill for every OP professional, and writing for a publication is a great opportunity to develop it.

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of how you can make your dissertation go further. The OP field is incredibly popular, and this translates into considerable competition. This can be most keenly felt at the graduate level, so exploring ways that help you stand out is essential.

Given the dissertation will be amongst your greatest accomplishments, it stands to reason that it should be a key component of your early career strategy.

Good luck!

About the Author

Simon Toms is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In 2019, he was elected to Full Membership of the Division of Occupational Psychology. He is also a Chartered Scientist with the Science Council, Principal Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology, published author, and PhD graduate. He is a graduate of the Division of Occupational Psychology’s Leadership Development Programme.

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I want a job as a consultant: Skills and behaviours needed to work in OP

By David Biggs

Getting a job in occupational psychology is tough as most of the people reading this article will know.  It is a brilliant career and gives you privileged access to organizations large and small, public sector and private sector, profit or not for profit.  And the list goes on. So why a job in consulting?

Before answering this question, I always like to draw up the distinction between internal and external consultancy.  Many people do start their route as an occupational psychologist in an internal consultancy, which has its advantages and disadvantages (Biggs, 2010). Indeed, I was no exception to this, so post MSc I worked for an internal consultancy in 1994 with the MFI Furniture Group Ltd.  I then moved on and worked in another similar role for Barclaycard in 1995.  And then both of these companies became my clients when I worked as an external consultant for Paradise Computing Ltd. 

This experience taught me that there was a definite difference between working as an internal and external consultant. However the skills learnt as an internal consultant can translate into the skills needed as an external consultant (Sturdy, Wylie, & Wright, 2013). Interestingly enough being a previous employee of both MFI and Barclaycard gave me a fantastic insight into how these organizations ran.  This learning could also be applied to other organizations that were clients of mine. One of the main learning points here is that the client consultant relationship is key (Fincham, 2012).  Even through meticulous planning and project management, lots of things can go wrong in a consultancy assignment.  If things do go wrong then this is where the client consultant relationship matters as everything can be sorted out (Biggs, 2016).

An example of a situation where the client consultant relationship led to improvements and increased sales comes from this period of time in my life. The consultancy I worked for ran an unpopular course on MS Project.  Additionally it was not rated particularly high by those few delegates who attended the course. Utilising the client consultant relationship in building up rapport with some of my clients I could get to the bottom of this matter. On talking to my clients, it seemed the course was about how to use the software itself rather than why would you use the software in the first place.  There is obviously a big difference.  So the consultancy paid for me to embark on project management and planning training.  This knowledge was then incorporated into the MS Project course.  The course then became one of the consultancy’s most popular courses going from being run once every two to three months to being run at least once a week.  So having a good client consultant relationship, not only helps you solve any issues that may arise.  It may also, as in this case, lead to increased sales.  A win win for everyone involved. The other way of getting into consulting is to set up your own consultancy. This is not an easy route by any means and is filled with difficulties. But selling your own expertise does not conform to the normal rules of production and can be done (O’Mahoney & Markham, 2012). Indeed, I am proud to have seen some of our own students at the University of Gloucestershire flourish setting themselves up in their own companies offering their expertise as consultants. Cash flow, directors reports, end of year accounts as well as building client rapport and legal concerns are all part and parcel of running your own firm.  So it is challenging setting up your own consultancy but rewarding at the same time (Biggs, 2010).

Skills and behaviours needed to work as a consultant occupational psychologist

As occupational psychologists we are trained to be able to identify the skills and behaviours needed in a role for it to be performed effectively.  The skills and behaviours needed for a consultancy role are also essential to know, acquire and then develop further to be effective as a consultant (Appelbaum, 2004; Biggs, 2010).

Skills can be taught and can range quite widely in consultancy practice also dependent on what type of role and work that a person wants to achieve.  Identifying skills needed is essential in this process.  This can be done fairly simply using a tool such as a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats Analysis (SWOT) as Biggs (2010) suggested.  This can be further augmented by learning more specific skills sets which may drive a person all the way through to qualifications in consultancy such as those by the Institute of Consulting.  Indeed the CMI/Institute of Consulting has Level 7 qualifications, so at doctorate level, which progress areas of skills and competencies such as:

  • managing consultancy interventions
  • building and sustaining client consultant relationships
  • effective project management
  • tools and techniques for effective consulting

Behaviours are also essential in consultancy. There are a number of competency frameworks around. But it is always useful to stick with one and use it to explore your own behavioural repertoire. Two of the frameworks I would recommend include my own (Biggs, 2010) and the CMI/ Institute of Consulting’s professional behaviours framework. 

My own competency framework (Biggs, 2010) has been used for many years with MSc students at Gloucestershire to map their past achievements onto a behavioural framework. The framework uses unpublished job analyses performed in a large international consultancy and boutique firm and also considers a meta-analysis of competencies completed by Woehr and Arthur (2003) so it is comprehensive.  It includes the following competencies: Communication, Influencing others, Organising and planning, Problem solving, Teamwork and consideration of others, Leadership, Drive, Tolerance for stress/uncertainty.

The CMI/Institute of Consulting also has a competency framework, which includes: Professionalism and Ethics; Analytical and Proactive Thinking; Complexity and Responsibility; Interpersonal Interaction; Delivery; Effectiveness; and finally Personal Growth (IBC, 2007).  The CMI have a three level approach to their competencies rather than the normal 5 point assessment centre rating adopted by Biggs (2010), these levels are: development, independence, and mastery. Either of these frameworks can be used to examine a potential consultants development needs.  Biggs (2010) is probably more apt for entry level consultants and concentrates on issues such as building up resilience in its Tolerance for stress/uncertainty competency.  However the CMI framework is good as it develops through stages all geared towards improving consultancy competence through initially developing a client focus, through to delivering achievable and sustainable results.

Conclusions

The world of consulting is a fascinating one and offers a stimulating career. There are skills and behaviours to learn and develop in this role.  Identification of these is the first step to take. Once identified behaviours and skills can be developed leading to growth as a consultant. Hopefully in this short article, I have managed to demonstrate that work needs to go into developing these skills and behaviours. However, this work is not without reward.  The reward of getting a challenging role in consulting is well worth the effort put in, especially for occupational psychologists.

About the Author

David Biggs is a HCPC registered Occupational Psychologist and chartered through the British Psychological Society (BPS). David’s background is in academia (lecturing and management), business development and consulting. He jointly heads up the Division of Occupational Psychology Training Committee for the British Psychological Society that accredits MSc’s and doctorates in Occupational Psychology in the UK.  David assesses and supervises on the Qualification in Occupational Psychology (DOP) that gives chartered status and HCPC registration for successful candidates. David’s research interests are in consulting, non-traditional work and artificial intelligence.

References

Appelbaum, S. H. (2004), Critical Success Factors in the Client-Consulting Relationship. Journal of American Academy of Business, 4(1/2), 184-191.

Biggs, D. M. (2010). Management Consulting: A guide for students. London: Cengage Learning.

Biggs, D.M. (2016) Consulting. Chapter in P.Grant. (Ed) Business Psychology in Action: Creating flourishing organisations through evidence-based and emerging practices. Leicester: Troubador Publishing ltd

Fincham, R. (2012), The client in the client- consultant relationship. Chapter in M. Kipping and T. Clark, (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Management Consulting. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Institute of Business Consulting (2007) Management Consultancy Competence Framework. Retrieved on 02/05/2017 from http://www.exponentialtraining.com/Downloads/Resources/Competence%20Framework%20June%202007%20V1.pdf

O’Mahoney, J and Markham, C. (2012) Management Consulting 2nd Edition Oxford: Oxford University Press

Sturdy, A., Wylie, N., and Wright, C. (2013). Management Consultancy and Organizational Uncertainty: The Case of Internal Consultancy. International Studies of Management & Organization, 43(3), 58–73.

Woehr, D.J. and Arthur Jr., W. (2003) The Construct-Related Validity of Assessment Center Ratings: A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Role of Methodological Factors. Journal of Management; 29(2), p231-258

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Using LinkedIn for OP Job Searches

By Nikita Mikhailov

LinkedIn is a very interesting platform connecting the professionals across a variety of fields in one place.

So when it comes to Occ Psych job search, here are some steps you can take to make the most of it…

1. Connect

If you have a particular application of Occ Psych in mind e.g. Psychometric development, coaching, etc… Just search for people already doing this and send a connect invite (you can also customize the invite). You can use something along the lines of:

Hello Joanna,

My name is Steve and I am just starting to explore the job market to put my degree to good use. I find what you do fascinating. It would be great to connect, and if you have some time for a quick call, I would very much appreciate it.

With best wishes,

Nikita (no wait I am supposed to be Steve)

There are many reasons to connect! You can develop a wider network, learn from people already in the field, and also a lot of jobs are advertised internally within a company before made public, so if someone in the company knows you are looking, they might send the info about the opportunity your way (usually they are encouraged with a referral fee for finding a candidate for a position).

2. Update your profile

One of the things that really surprises me is how BSc and even MSc seem to downplay their strengths, previous achievements and experience, just because they might not see it as applicable to Occ Psych job. So Please please good people your previous experiences, knowledge are likely to be brilliantly transferable to the world of Occ Psych, so please highlight them accordingly. Things to keep in mind:

This is your page and it is about you. So write what you are genuinely interest in, even if it is as general as how we experience our human condition or as specific that you find factor analysis of psychometric items beautiful. It is all good, because as I said it’s about you.

When you have a role in mind, such as consultancy, look through the job descriptions and competencies required. then you can edit your past experiences, be it part time jobs, experiences, placements, volunteering to best illustrate the demonstration of those competencies

e.g. Instead – Working in a shop selling perfume – Working in the shop selling high end fragrancies, I helped my clients explore the offering available and find just the right perfume for them.

I was particular proud of the ability to build trust and long-term relationships with clients.

3. Search for Jobs

Ok, LinkedIn has a great job search function, it is the little toolbox icon at the top of your page. Here you can search for specific roles e.g. Occupational psychologist but also for key words e.g. Psychometrics. You can also set up notifications which notify (as the name suggests) so you are kept updated about the recent roles

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Many Occ Psych related jobs don’t even have psychology in the description so search for the keywords (Psychometrics, assessment, development etc…) so you don’t limit your search by role titles.

When applying, most job descriptions have the person who posted this from the company. Reach out to them and ask if you can have a chat to understand the role better. Also if you already know people in the organisation, reach out to them, and maybe find people in the organisation already doing the same job (e.g. Consultant) in the organisation and reach out to them for a chat. This will help you stand out from the rest of the applicants as someone more interested in the role and taking the application process seriously.

Follow the hashtag #psychtalent which was created for people to highlight the jobs in Occ/Industrial Psych, and sort out the posts by date, so you can see the most recent ones first.

4. Share your knowledge, discuss, and engage

There are loads of posts and comments. Engage with them, comment, engage with everyone. here are some tips:

First if you think should you contribute, the answer is ‘yes’, even if you are not yet working in the field, you already have a view on it, and you are also likely to have knowledge and experiences to contribute.

When answering a comment use the ‘@’ sign to highlight the name of the individual you are replying to, as it will allow you to gain more visibility.

Ask questions from your connections with regards to your field e.g. “What we need to improve about how psychometrics are used?” and when people answer make sure to answer them back 🙂

It can be quite fun so when it becomes a bit too serious, take a break.

Oh yeah and don’t be rude to people, because it looks worse on you than on them 🙂

About the Author

Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

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Blog Piece

Finding Your Role

By Nikita Mikhailov

It can be tough submitting application after application and getting rejections and or not hearing anything at all, I have been there. Though here are some tips that might make it easier for you:

“I am passionate about psychology”

Is that your opening line? Well I have some news – about 95% of cover letters start with that. Here are some alternatives: “I am psychological about passion” (thank you Wendy Lord for that one) “I find ……. particularly interesting in Psychology”.

Sending an application without a message or a call first

I know that you have hundreds of applications to send, but take your time to have a call or even pop down for a coffee to the office to have a chat about the role. To find out more about the role and the company and to see if it really is for you.

The job title might not have the word psychologist in it: Maybe looking at job sites for “psychologist” is not the only way to go. Identify what you are particularly interested in about psychology and search for that, it can be “Psychometrics”, “personality assessment”, “culture change”, etc… and you might be surprised of what job title of a role that is a perfect for you Ok, what about going passed job boards all together.

LinkedIn and networking

Not only is LinkedIn a great source for job ads but it’s also a brilliant place to network, even with people you have not yet met. So after you have identified what you really find interesting, however specific it may be (e.g. “Personality assessments” “psychological well-being of firefighters”) go and search LinkedIn for people who do exactly that. After you find them message them with an invite saying how you find there are of work to be fascinating and you love to talk more about it. You already have a shared interest in common and maybe there is an internship opportunity, shadowing etc. When you have a chat ask them “is there anyone else they think that you should meet?” This might give you the opportunity to meet some fellow colleagues.

Have fun. Go to events, meet people one to one (public places and all that). Skype people who you think are ace in the what they do. The world is full of very interesting Psychologists doing some great stuff that they would be happy to talk about.

Psychology is a fascinating field where getting paid allows you to do what you love! Wishing you the very best in your career dear colleague! Anything you would like to add as far as finding the job in Occ/Business Psych? Drop us an message!

Job boards

There are many good job boards: indeed, totaljobs, monster and many more, search them as well. Here are psychology specific ones that we know of in the UK:

BPS British Psychological Society runs this great website, where you can find jobs not only in Occ Psych but also in other branches of psychology https://www.jobsinpsychology.co.uk/

Association for Business Psychology You can look for jobs: https://theabp.org.uk/job-dashboard/jobs/ And volunteering opportunities: https://theabp.org.uk/job-dashboard/volunteering-opportunities/

Other resources that might be useful: Uzma Waseem from ABP has written this brilliant article on how to look for a job during lockdown https://theabp.org.uk/steering-through-the-job-market-during-lockdown/

About the Author

Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.