Monday, 23 May 2011

Together

Although I haven't posted regularly for a while, work/life fusion is never far from my mind. I believe in the subject matter here, plus it will always be my place of firsts. This was my first blog, the first place I ever wrote in public and the first time I ever invited anyone to join me in an open conversation about careers and work.

I also feel lucky to have a place like this because only a few years ago everything here would have been scribbled in a notebook instead of blogged out in the open. Which means none of it would have been found or changed or improved by anyone other than me. Without the open conversation on this blog I'd still have no idea about the difference it makes when you realise you're no longer struggling or battling alone.

Many, Many People: Together
[Image courtesy of TheBigTouffe on Flickr]

Blogging together has taught me that we can make a difference and our collective voice on this subject grows stronger every day. By sharing and exploring individual work/life stories we've seen ourselves struggle with the same things. We see the same doubts, the same fears and the same feelings of being alone in ourselves and other people. We've seen these things and realised we're no longer alone.

The feeling of being alone is real enough but it's also a red herring. We're not alone. We never were and never will be. Of course our career stories are all different but we're also tied together in so many countless and unshakeable ways. We go to work, we come home. We meet new people, we get along. We argue, we resolve our differences. We succeed, we fail, we struggle, we fall, we pick ourselves up and we start all over again. In short, We experience and it's our experience, alongside the experience of others, that helps us make the right and best choices for our situation. We're all making unique choices and that makes us the same.

Right now I couldn't tell you what the future looks like for this blog but I can tell you I am proud of its past and what it stands for. I'm also proud of myself and everyone else exploring their experience - past, present and future - in the battle to improve and do as well as they can. Our potential, our confidence and our progress together will continue to grow.

Thank you for reading, writing and sharing your experiences as always,

Paul
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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

We Always Choose For

A while ago I gave myself the task of figuring out a few simple things...

What I'm doing, Why I'm doing it and Where it's taking me.

Thanks to this task, every now and then you'll find me visiting and revisiting past decisions and choices I've made (big and small).

Now this might sound like a recipe for driving yourself around the bend but there's more to it than that.

For a start, you get a better handle on the what's, why's and wherefore's when it comes to your career (and Yes, I'll happily admit the wherefore's were new to me too) and they would be worth the ticket price on their own but, every now and then, I've also come face-to-face with a cracker of a brand-new-and-wonderful fact.

To give you an example, I recently discovered that,

Almost all of the time (and especially when it counts),

I have always chosen for.

Oh Yes, You do it too.

[Image courtesy of Auntie K on Flickr.com]

How We Make Choices For (as opposed to against)

A simple study of past decisions helped me realise that I have nearly always made choices for positive reasons.

OK, a sample of one doesn't make an expert but I'm convinced you make choices this way too.

Think about it for a moment...

There's something fundamentally positive at work when we make choices, even when we're not sure we're doing the right thing. Perhaps it's even more obvious when we have the hardest choices to make. When times are tough and/or the pressure is on, we choose for (and with) the things we really believe in.

I'm not talking about easy choices like, "Hmm, Shall I have chocolate or cake?", I mean the ones where there are sacrifices. When it's not at all clear cut or black-and-white. To give you a working example, maybe it's the honours graduate student who waits tables to put herself through college; or maybe it's the fully qualified physiotherapist who does shifts in a factory while his overseas qualifications await recognition in a new country (oddly specific but career facts often are).

In my case, I made a big decision a few years back to take my career into unknown territory. To head for the place where our individual choices and decisions come from. At the time it must have looked like I was choosing against the people around me or rejecting my more familiar work. Of course this wasn't the case but it was only recently, while reflecting on my choices (and their outcomes) that it stood out so clearly.

When it comes to work/life, we always choose for.

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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sharing Great News

I know I should do more of this, especially when there is great news to share…

A good friend to ExploreYourCareer.com (and work/life fusion) has just found and started a new job

Art was one of the first people to sit our Job-Seeker’s Interview last year (you might find it interesting to take a look at his answers, particularly now he has landed this new role)

In the end it all happened in a flash (there were less than 2-weeks between first-contact and his start-date) but a quick turn-around like this hides a great deal of hard work and effort

Today I wanted to celebrate Art’s great result (and rightly so!) but I also wanted to celebrate every single one of those hard-won yards that played a part in this well deserved outcome

If you’re looking for a job right now a story like Art’s might catch your eye

Sure it has the happy ending we might all like to hear (at least every now and then) but I reckon there’s even more to take away from a personal job search story like this...

Art might not have known how it would come (or even where it would come from) but something in his interview answers tells us he knew a result was getting closer

Even when the going got tough (and when is it anything but tough on a job search today?), Art stayed positive, stuck to his task, remembered his value to employers and shared experiences (back and forth) in a small group he trusted

Art’s too modest - unlike me, I'm a blogger ;) - but he might forgive me for saying this in public one more time…

Good on you Art, you’ve earned this. Congratulations once again!

And all the very best for the future in your new job.

Paul

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Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Career Explorer's Journal in 2011

Free on Smashwords, Barnes&Noble NOOKbooks, Sony ReaderStore & Apple US & UK

(Also available on Amazon's KindleStore US & UK)

A New Year always brings in the new

The 2011 Edition of The Career Explorer's Journal is here to bring something new to the way we think about and experience work - one career, one person at a time. Maybe your something new will be a better idea of what you want for the future or a clearer picture of what you're working towards. Maybe you'll discover something a little more fundamental, like new feelings of progress on a job search or a sharper sense of focus on that all important next milestone and what it looks like for you.

The Career Explorer's Journal is free now and for the rest of 2011 and it offers something new to everyone who finds it. ExploreYourCareer.com is also there for you to tell us what you think and share your experiences before, during and after your reader's journey. It's my hope that 2011 will be a year full of new career discoveries for everyone who picks up this book. From your very first choice to become a career explorer you'll join me and everyone else who has already taken exactly the same first step. Every single one of us on a mission to discover where we want our careers to go.

Wishing all the very best to you and your career in 2011!

Paul

Monday, 20 December 2010

William's 1,000 Job Applications

William made 1,000 job applications in 13 weeks

For all his effort he only got 1 reply and that was a 'No'.

Numbers like these are more than disappointing. What makes them even worse is that William achieved them on an 'intensive job-searching course', which means he was under someone else's care. A company or a group of professional people who were supposed to be helping him and his job search.

Despite the negligence and unprofessionalism of everyone involved with William's intensive course, these numbers hide something positive and encouraging that now belongs to William - and can belong to anyone else who has experienced something similar on a job search.

By any measure, 1,000 applications in 13 weeks is an impressive workload. It shows real effort and determination on William's part. He could have given up after 500 applications. Many people on the same course did nothing like his total, let alone half of it. If there was any failure it wasn't in William's effort and persistence.

Here's another failure William can't take the blame for. He was encouraged to send out as many applications as he could. 'It's a numbers game' he was told. 'If you send enough emails and letters and make enough calls, something will come back'. Empty statements like this are hard to argue with, especially when they're coming from an 'expert' or a 'professional'.

William was encouraged to make as many applications as he could instead of trying to make every application count. At the end of his 13 weeks there was no way for William to tell how many applications even reached a real person at the other end. There was no attempt to measure anything he could follow up on. There were no connections or interactions for William to learn from. There was nothing coming back the other way at all.

A job search is much more than racking up numbers and, as William's experience shows, it is much more than effort and persistence too. A job search is built around a combination of many things but somewhere close to the heart there has to be the knowledge, the feeling even, that we are making progress. We need something to measure and therefore prove that the applications we make add up to more than just a number.

William will never repeat this experience on his job search again (maybe this was one more valuable thing he learnt on this course?). From now on he isn't measuring his effort or his job search by the numbers. William no longer thinks will have to make another 1,000 applications and I agree with him. That's because instead of vast numbers of job applications, William is now focused on the people he is able to meet and talk to one at a time. He's also much more focused on the work he is able to do. The skills, experiences and qualifications he has earned over the years, the skills and experiences that will help him get back to work.

William's job search is now focused on much smaller numbers. He talks to people about the company they work for, the job they might be offering, the qualities in the person they are looking for, the skills and experience they need. William's job search might only be moving forward in single figures but they are now based on real conversations, genuine connections and personal interactions. His job search will still take time but he now has proof of his progress. Maybe a statistic on a spreadsheet somewhere won't show a big enough number but in William's opinion that's just something else he doesn't have to take the blame for.

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