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Managing Expectations

Being realistic in your expectations
We are told to aim for the stars; that we can do anything we want with our career. I know because I say it to people I speak to; I do however add a caveat: you will need to be realistic.
We all have expectations, of the people we know, our friends and colleagues, our family; the TV we watch; the food we eat; even the service we expect as a customer. For most of the time we don’t give these expectations a second thought; that is until we are disappointed or surprised.
However, managing expectations is something we all need to do, both our own and other people’s expectations of what we can achieve. It can give us a sense of calm, a feeling of certainty and may even help avoid an upsetting situation. Sounds great but how do you go about managing expectations?
Let’s take applying for a new job as an example and have a look at some of the common expectations involved:
Action Your Expectation Employer expectation How to manage the situation
Writing your CV You have written a good CV and posted it to 200 scientific companies – that will surely get you at least one interview Successful candidates will meet the criteria set and will understand what the company needs Tailoring your CV to the company, taking time to research them and find out what they do and the type of person you are looking for will strengthen your application and show you are someone who has taken time over your entry
Applying for the job To hear back when the company receives your application Recruitment for a new position is important but it’s not at the top of my list right now, I have other deadlines The reality is that with over a hundred applications for many roles and potentially more than one role open at any one time, you are unlikely to hear back unless it’s to say you have an interview
Interview You will be examined in every detail and it’s going to be a horrendous experience OR there’s going to be no one better than you, it’s already a given Employers expect you to be on time, dress appropriately and most importantly engage with them.
  1. Smile and make conversation with everyone you meet
  2. Look interested, even if you’re not
  3. Listen to the question, take a deep breath and answer it as fully as you can. If you can’t think of an answer after a breath or sip of water, be honest and come back to it.
  4. Give appropriate and honest answers
  5. In group exercises make sure you interact with the other candidates. Marks are given out for certain behaviours and if you sit quietly in the corner you can’t score anything!
Getting feedback You expect detailed feedback of where you went wrong and how to improve next time The successful candidate performed the best, what more is there to say? Being told you were just pipped to the post or not getting any feedback at all can be tricky. Sometimes you really are just unlucky but if it’s happening consistently, seek some advice from a careers specialist who will be able to carry out a mock interview with you
Negotiating salary Just graduated or have a PhD - £28k is reasonable, right? Just graduated or PhD, little experience, £18-21k is reasonable, right? Salary expectations are amongst the most difficult to manage as you are basing a salary on what you/they feel they are worth. A reasonable starting salary for someone in chemistry is around the £21-24k but it may be more or less. You will need to consider all of your options and decide if it is enough for you.
Posted by Charlotte Ashley-Roberts on Aug 11, 2014 10:32 AM Europe/London

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