Friday, May 8, 2009
Career Management: A Learned Skill
Countless numbers of CVs cross my screen every day, either from candidates in the search process, or clients involved in transition coaching. So I’m pretty familiar with them.
In the past week alone, by chance, I have seen a CV without an email address, one seemingly without a name (really.. although it did finally appear at the bottom of the 3rd page, in italics, font size 10) Another two, where it was impossible to tell what job the candidates actually did. This is before going into the more sophisticated aspects of SEO, transferrable, value-adding skills and the like. It's a snapshot of a standard, unexceptional week. All four felt that they could manage their careers themselves. There were more - but you get the picture.
I did have one perfect resume (my spirits lifted – it doesn’t take much!) But when the candidate came to the interview, disappointment kicked in. Within minutes of our discussion, I could tell from the responses, that the guy in front of me bore no resemblance to the message conveyed in the resume. There was a credibility gap, a big one. Why? It just wasn’t his voice. The CV had been written by a CV writing service with no integrated or follow-up coaching. When we talked about the process he had been through, he had made a decision that finding a job was something he could do on his own. He believed he didn’t need anything else.
I am starting to wonder if career management is like raising kids and being in relationships. Is it something most of us feel we can all do instinctively? Until there’s a problem. So now, even in the face of all the statistics that scream change and difficult times, job losses outstrip vacancies 3:1 in Europe; we still have a tendency to believe that we can cope on our own.
Discussions on this subject tend to centre on what I call the “Yes..but” dialogue. “Yes” means “ I hear and recognise what is going on”. The inner message suggests openness “But” means “ I’m not going to change. There is something about the status quo that suits me, even if it’s being stressed " The inner message is closed.
My observation is that there are a number of consistent factors that people use as claims for their rightful spot in the “but” camp: no energy, no time, cost.
So I am just asking you to try reframing your thoughts and putting them into perspective. Manage your mind!
Reframe the no energy issue. Formulate a mission statement. This is just a buzz word for an action orientated, note-to-self. If you have been caught out in this downturn and are currently feeling overwhelmed, now would be a good time to deal not just with those specific issues, but also to prepare for the future. Life is never static and nothing is permanent. There will be other situations to deal with right throughout your career. Promotions, re-organisations and transfers are just some of the possible changes that any of us face, even in sound economic times. If you found a hole in your roof, would you wait until the next storm to fix it? No, I doubt if you would
A mission statement will help you focus on what is important in your life, so that you can prioritise your goals and provide a framework for your daily decisions. It will allow you to act, not react. This opens up a whole raft of possibilities. Choose strategies that offer long term skills and problem solving tools, which you can use again and again, not just a band–aid, quick fix approach, to get you out of a short term jam. You need to commit to the journey, not just a stroll. That will help you bridge the credibility gap. Include objectives to nurture yourself both emotionally and physically. These steps will make you feel more in charge. Empowerment is energising. Energy creates time.
Reframe the question of time. There is a wealth of free resources online , in libraries and inexpensive bookshops. But I agree, it does it takes a huge amount of time to sort through the vast quantities of conflicting, often confusing, professional information. Let’s look at this too.
Seemingly the average American watches 4h 32m of TV per day, while in Europe its 3h 37m per person. There has apparently been a 38.8% increase for online video viewing, in the 12 months, March 2008 to 2009. Even if you cut back by 10 percent on your favourite shows, that would still release about 3 hours a week to focus on your career goals. I took a week in elapsed time to download all my CDs onto my iPod. Most of our daughters take way over an hour to get ready for a date.
So the question to ask yourself – can you really not find the time?
Reframe the question of cost. Step back and put the question on any current or future investment regarding career transition support into perspective.
You spend at least 8 hours of any day working at your job. This goes on for possibly 40 years. Total will be about 76,000 hours in your life or career. Do the maths. Even as a daily investment – how minimal is any expenditure throughout a working career? Now put that into context. We are talking about fractions of Dollars, Euros, Pounds, Yen and most other currencies over a total working life.
If this is something you can’t stretch to now, make a note to build professional support into your future budget, in the way you might make contingency funds for painting your house or that hole in your roof.
These simple strategies should get us out of the "but" camp. But only if that's not where we want to be.
“ To solve any problem, there are three questions to ask yourself: First, what could I do? Second, what could I read? And third, who could I ask?” Jim Rohn