Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
As with the example On networking, one individual can be at ease but the person next to them uncomfortable in exactly the same setting. Feeling at ease or uncomfortable can depend on individual factors like preparedness, experience and familiarity. Using the example of familiarity, facing the same situation a number of times can help us improve our response to it.
My earliest response to career decision-making was to get it out of the way as soon as possible. Thankfully, my perspective changed because I discovered that one of the hallmarks of good career management is the ability to identify and react to opportunities, even in unfamiliar situations or during difficult times.
A recent example here in the UK can be found in the responses to Woolworth's collapse. Most reactions to Woolworth’s plight have been negative but a handful of people have responded more positively with rescue bids and recovery plans. The suggestion here isn’t that we all need to be entrepreneurs to manage our careers successfully but the attitude embodied by the positive responses to the Woolworth’s situation provides useful insight. Some people see bad news, others see career opportunities.
It’s not only by chance that career opportunities fall to the individuals who realise they are in the right place at the right time. Oliver's story is a good example of attitude creating opportunity because Oliver saw the career potential in a situation that he could have easily viewed less positively.
If you have any comments, or have had a similar experience to Oliver, it would be great to hear it!
Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Friday, 12 December 2008
I am thankful that my work enables me to meet new and interesting people all of the time but I am still a little uncomfortable networking in a room full of people. I was invited to an event yesterday which began with the familiar sight of a large crowd, all happily chatting together like old friends. Yesterday I was rescued by a couple of gents who made it all look easy. They introduced themselves to me in turn and the conversation flowed from there.
Because they were so at ease, I asked for their thoughts about what makes a good networker. One answer focused on the attitude you have towards the room. “It’s like giving a speech at a wedding. You feel a little nervous at first but then you realise you have world’s most willing audience. They want you to succeed.” So, networking in a room full of people is made easier because no-one you approach will ever ignore you. Everyone is there to meet new people like you (or in this case me).
The second answer was a little more introspective. “Belong in the room. If you are nervous or uncomfortable it shows. I first came to events like this over forty years ago. One thing I wish I knew from the start was that I deserved to be there as much as anyone else!”
In career management and job search, networking and relationship building takes many forms. To be successful you have to communicate effectively via email, over the phone, through your CV/resume, at interview and - occasionally - in a room full of people.
The most successful people I have worked with (from a career management perspective) are those individuals who communicate well across all available media. They are never experts at everything when they begin but they work on their weaknesses, improving their performance in the numerous disciplines.
Successful career managers also communicate consistently and with meaning, especially on the subject of their values, talents and goals. They ensure that after any encounter, the other party knows what is important to them, where their strengths lie and what their aims are for the future.
If they happen to read this post, I send my sincere thanks to the experts who shared their knowledge and experience with me yesterday and, in doing so, made me feel welcome in their company. When the next event comes around, their words will be among the first things I have with me when I walk into the room.
Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
If you haven't come across it already, Twitter is a website that enables you to tell your friends, family and anyone else online, what you are doing in 140 characters or less. It's like sending a post card except you can post as often as you like and you don’t have to be on holiday.
Innovative communication and networking sites like Twitter are changing job search and career management beyond recognition. For example, employers and recruiters post jobs on Twitter. Some ask directly for the skills they need in real-time, broadcasting their requirements to a live network for immediate answer. At the same time, individual people talk about career and work issues. Engaging their live network of friends, colleagues and fellow twitterers around the world to gain new perspectives, poll opinions and get help.
Of course, Twitter is not just for work and career chat but its growing use in this way, and the way its users and developers continue to find exciting ways to harness the technology, creates new opportunities and advantages with the potential to benefit us all.
Monday, 8 December 2008
Some careers are rich with achievement. Some successes appear so complex they can take a while to appreciate. Some individuals revel in their success being beyond the understanding of all but their most senior colleagues in business.
Other individuals are completely at ease when talking about their work to a wide range of people. The most complicated and intricate tasks are made easy to understand. Delicate issues that took weeks or even years to resolve are explained in calm, even tones and nothing is beyond anyone’s comprehension.
Communication that serves great leadership might feel effortless but it is also accurate, concise and assured. Our communication can learn and borrow from those who employ it with such skill and aim for simplicity, accuracy and assurance itself. This is especially true in our personal career management activity.
No-one is better placed than ourselves to communicate clearly on the subject of our careers and our individual relationship with work. Improving our definition of personal success can give us some of the assurance that the most successful leaders employ in their mastery of communication. The opportunity exists to add - one-by-one - to the number of people who can talk at ease and with authority about their personal success.
Friday, 5 December 2008
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Monday, 1 December 2008
When you talk to people about their careers, they may speak in general terms at first but conversations can quickly become deeper and replies get more personal and more meaningful as a result. The next time you are talking about your career or making career decisions, it might help to think about some of the following sentiments.
“My career is ideal for anyone who values their time.”
“I want to end my career with a bang!”
“Freelance work pays the bills but it’s not what I want for the rest of my career.”
“Companies are interested in my experience but I’m no longer enthusiastic about work and it shows.”
“I need a job right now but I don’t want to take anything that will damage my career prospects in the future.”
“It won’t make me rich but I have never been happier at work.”
Looking back on our careers to see how satisfied we are with our achievements, I would argue that the judgement that carries the most meaning is the one we make privately. Traditionally, this was a judgement most people made later in life or on retirement. Today, changes in employer/employee relationships have encouraged a greater number of individuals to take responsibility for their choices at an earlier stage in their careers.
As in the past, we can wait to judge the relative success of our careers when we look back on our achievements later in life. Alternatively, we can look to ourselves earlier in our careers to establish and confirm a personal definition of success and its greater potential for satisfaction and fulfilment over time.
It takes genuine bravery to admit that you don’t know what you want to happen next in your career. The reward for doing so - the only sure-thing if you prefer - is that from the moment you place yourself in this position, you begin to learn invaluable lessons about your career and your individual definition personal success.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Among other things career related, this blog attempts to support careers and job searches with planning that is mindful of short and long-term objectives. When I am asked why this is a preferable approach I like to use examples of how and why this has worked for people in the past.
It can also be useful to compare job search and career management activity to something an individual knows well. For example, if you are a project manager you should be used to resolving varied and complex missions into their component tasks and objectives. Similarly, professional researchers often have an advantage because changes in direction and discoveries made ‘along the way’ are familiar to research and job search.
No two careers are identical so finding a universal comparison for managing careers is no easy task. What is true for all of us however, is that we can influence the direction of our career and that our influence is boosted when it calls upon the personal and professional assets we already possess.
We aren’t all hot-shot project managers or go-getting researchers but we can use the skills and experiences we have earned so far, apply them to the benefit of our careers and build our own definition of personal success.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Friday, 21 November 2008
Kicking off a job search can be a daunting task because it is often the time when the greatest variety of career choice seems open to us.
The mission for those of us who have been in this position - and for those of us who are facing it now - is not only to narrow our range of career choices but to complete this narrowing process without damaging our longer-term career prospects. In other words, the aim is to define career choices with the greatest potential for satisfaction and fulfilment over time.
Traditional job search advice supports us with tried and tested tactical wisdom. We receive advice on answering interview questions, preparing our CV/resume, using the Internet in our search as well as the wide variety of recruitment services available to us on and off-line. This advice is all very helpful and many of us can point to past successes thanks to support, hints, and tips of this nature.
But, tactical job search advice finds it harder to answer questions like, What should I do with my career from here? What work does my experience qualify me for? What career or job will I find most rewarding? Where can my career go after redundancy? as well as old interview favourites such as, What will I be doing in 5 years time?
Until recently, questions like these were up to the individual to answer as best as they can.
The good news is, career management that looks to provide individuals with the ability to answer these questions is now much more accessible. As an example, the decision support and case studies on this blog talk regularly about defining personal success through understanding an individual’s values, talents and goals.
As this definition of personal success emerges, career choices begin to define themselves more clearly at the same time. The overwhelming variety of career-choice at the start of your job search can be narrowed and all without the harmful, narrowing effect on opportunity. Perhaps more importantly though, the potential for your career and your relationship with work to deliver satisfaction and fulfilment over time is directly increased as a result because the choices you make today are made in context with the preferred direction you are defining for your future.
As always, you comments and questions are welcomed on this subject or anything else career related. Enjoy your weekend wherever you are!
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
What would you say to someone managing their job search right now but feeling like the odds are against them? First you might say that a job search is one of the most complex, tiring and all-encompassing projects that anyone can manage.
The most complex project is arguably the overall management of your career. Even the most dedicated and skilful project managers will have few tasks of an equivalent magnitude. What else calls on them - or us for that matter - to span 30+ years and deal with such a huge range of inputs and variables: human, analytical, technical and emotional for instance. So, to recap on the first point, managing your job search is no easy task.
The second point is even more easy to overlook because it is the notion that wherever you are in your career and your search, if you are attempting to manage this process, you are already way ahead of where you think you are. But, most of us don’t feel this when we are searching, so how can it be true?
It is true because career change is not something most individuals make a conscious effort to manage. When managing a job search, many of us convince ourselves that each additional day we are searching loses us more ground. That inside or outside of work, we are falling back farther and farther. That the longer our search takes us, the harder we will have to work to catch up or get back to where we were.
The reality of our situation is often the opposite because - to effectively manage our job search - we as individuals are already sitting on information that can assist us with our career decision-making. This essential career-management information can be identified and interpreted via our individual values, talents and goals and their ability to define the version of work/life success that is personal to us and to us alone.
If you are managing your job search right now, you can be sure that you are not the only one finding it difficult. You can also be sure that you are way ahead of where you thought you were. Not only in terms of managing your career opportunities and decision-making [in support of your immediate ‘back-to-work’ priorities] but also in support of an effort that defines your individual version of personal success and the greater potential for satisfaction and fulfilment that this holds.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Belief can be created in other people but only after you have belief in yourself. Belief in oneself can be misplaced but it can also be identified, qualified and rightfully earned. In the context of career management, self-belief [properly identified, qualified and earned] can help with progress towards personal success and the greater potential for fulfilment and satisfaction this holds.
Belief that contributes to self-leadership can be created when our values (what is important to us), talents (what we are good at) and goals (what keeps us going) are supported both internally and externally. When this is the case, belief can function as a tangible asset to an individual’s confidence in career decision-making situations, enabling career opportunities to be managed more effectively.
Belief that supports decision-making is an essential component of successful career management. It can help individuals to overcome obstacles, deal with rejection, learn from their mistakes and defend their choices, among other things. With beliefs linked to our values, talents and goals, self-leadership and the ultimate career aim of personal success can be present alongside our immediate priorities in the career choices and opportunity situations we encounter every day.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Events are sometimes labelled successes long before their wider implications are known. Business leaders have pointed to growth, profitability and healthy balance sheets as live indicators of success, only for the next set of the same indicators to show their gains as short-lived. The boom and bust of the early dot-com companies are examples of successes labelled too soon.
Failure can also be applied as a label too soon but can it really help to define success? Career decision-making is an example where both can be true. Career decision-making is something most of us face in imperfect situations, often without all of the facts to hand. As a result, our decisions can lead to situations we later find out are not right for us - or more positively - situations we feel compelled to improve.
Failure can be too harsh and too early a judgement but - perhaps more importantly - understanding failure can be a positive process for its ability to help us define success. Past career decisions that have led to situations we would like to change are actually an asset. Knowing you are in the wrong job increases the likelihood of successful decision making in the future. Particularly when this knowledge is explored within the context of the values, talents and goals that define our individual relationship with work.
The ultimate aim of career decision-making and career management is to deliver a healthy relationship with work, as well as work that an individual is satisfied with. When this is the case a more meaningful version of personal success can be defined with the help of the decisions and events that we and others previously labelled as failures.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Thursday, 6 November 2008
This is the 100th post on the work/life fusion blog. No big deal when you consider how long others have been out there but I never thought I’d post 10 times let alone 100. To celebrate this unexpected, mini-milestone, I wanted to do two things. First and foremost, to say thank you to everyone who has been a supporter over the last 6 months or so. My genuine thanks go to friends, family, colleagues, fellow bloggers, commenters and of course you who have taken the time to visit and read a post or two.
Secondly, I wanted to rewind and post on one of the subjects that prompted this blog in the first place. The belief that compartmentalising work and life - as in the example of work/life balance - creates conflict and so is obstructive to career development, satisfaction and fulfilment. Before you say it, I know that my work needs snappier and more interesting titles, so I apologise in advance if you feel your interest waning. If you can't bring yourself to go any further, I’ll say thanks once again for your support. Hope to see you again soon!
Work/life balance creates unnecessary obstacles in the way it separates work and life. Even in an ideal, hypothetical situation, the model professional that you are at work is impossible to meaningfully separate from the stand-up person you are at home. We are all one and the same and no effort to divide us along the lines of work and ‘life outside of work’ will achieve any different.
What work/life separation does achieve is conflict. Even for those who become highly adept at balancing work and life, the struggle to find and keep this equilibrium becomes an exhausting overhead in the end. Dr Steven Poelmans of the IESE Business School in Spain has studied work/family conflict in a range of organisational and individual situations and agrees with something more akin to work/life harmony as a solution.
Harmonising work and life does require attention but the rewards benefit our work/life experience as a whole. As individuals, our lives are governed by fundamental values, talents and goals common to work and life. It can feel like an alien concept at first but - using values as an example - the way you treat people in your career and in your 'life outside of work' shares something at its core. That may be something as simple as the respect you show to every individual you meet.
Whatever they are in each individual case, our fundamental work/life values, talents and goals can be understood. Creating the potential for personal, work/life success that separation and balance could not even dream of.
Please feel free to email or comment if you would like to join in and move the discussion forward. Here’s to the next few posts and to still being around when the total reaches 200!
Best Regards for now,