Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A Career Manifesto

I was chatting with someone recently and they mentioned their personal career manifesto.

It was made up of career-related beliefs and promises that this individual had made to himself. He recorded these key points by writing them down, with the full intention of living the beliefs and keeping the promises!

[To the moon Alice!: see more at Saundra's Photostream here

The more I thought about it, the more it interested me as a concept. It also appeared to fit quite well with the kind of strategic planning I complete with my clients as part of their career management process. I suppose the thing that surprised me is the word manifesto. The only time you ever hear this word in the UK is when there are elections and the political parties each issue a manifesto to communicate to us (the voters) why they should be elected.

Not because we don't know what the word means but because it is always worth exploring a definition for the insight it might give us. Here is what the dictionary says about a manifesto:

manifesto:  a written statement of the beliefs, aims and policies of an organisation, especially a political party (my thanks to Cambridge Online Dictionaries, as always)

What starts to get exciting about the above definition is that a manifesto is typically associated with an organisation. This inventive individual was actually treating his career and going about his career management in the way a group or a company would organise themselves (set an agenda, have a vision, measure progress, etc.). Apart from anything else, what a fantastic piece of evidential insight for the way the world of careers and work is changing!

[Taxi on Bay Bridge, San Francisco - see more at Saundra's Photostream here

Back to the manifesto itself: it was full of the kind of qualitative and quantitative targets that would not only allow progress to be made but to be measured as well. This career manifesto was effectively a self-binding contract that the individual was planning to hold himself to throughout his job search and career management activity. [Jason Alba with JibberJobber (a job search management tool) does something similar but this was the first time I had seen anything in this kind of structure.]

So, seeing it made me want to ask: What are your thoughts on having a career manifesto as an idea? Useful, overkill, useless?!?

The more I think about it, the more merit I see, especially if you are the kind of person (like me) who benefits from any kind of deadline or motivational objective.

Send in your thoughts & opinions on career manifestos and let's see what we find :)

All the best for now,


[✪ For those interested, here's why Saundra & I chose the above images for this post: 'Alice' not only looks closely at the road ahead, the moon is the subject of the shot too. What a great analogy for career management we thought! Concentrate on the road ahead but look to the moon as well!! The 'Taxi' in the second image is a cool analogy for strategic career planning. You never get into a taxi without an objective. You don't always know the route a taxi will take but it you know it will get you there, and sometimes quicker than you expected too! Hope this helps explain our choices, Saundra & Paul :)]


  1. It's a terrific idea. It's rather easy to move from job-to-job with little sense of direction. It's even easier to not know why we move in those directions in the first place. A manifesto like this helps bring our own values to the surface so we're making more conscious choices about the types of work we do and the organizations in which we practice these values.

    It's been a while since I actually took a hard look at my own values (I don't think I ever really wrote them down in one place). Your post has inspired me to collect what I believe about work into one place and draft up my own personal manifesto.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for your comment!

    I am so glad that you view this an an inspirational idea too. I have been writing for some time about the importance of values in career decision-making and career management but somehow the simple idea of a manifesto really brings it to life!

    Like you, I am going to spend some more time working out ways to include this idea in my future work.

    Thanks again for your comment :)

    Best Regards for now,


  3. Hi Paul - The first time I heard about this kind of thing was the opening scene of Jerry Maguire, in which he writes a Manifesto that is partly a comment on his own career motivations and partly a rant against this employer (I realize that is NOT what you're advocating). I just spent a few minutes seeing how easy/hard to would be for me to start writing down a Manifesto for myself, and discovered that the words came easily. I am going to devote time to completing the exercise later today. It seems to me a useful way to organize your thoughts, and in future, to see how things have changed, if at all.

    Thanks for introducing this very interesting practice. Perhaps you should invite your readers to post their Manifestos somewhere!

    Best regards,

  4. Hi Chris,

    I must re-watch Jerry Maguire for that scene :)

    But you are right, this kind of career manifesto is completely different. It is great to hear that starting your manifesto came easy. It would also be great to hear how easy you have found it to continue!

    What a great idea to think about sharing our manifestos too! In my experience, understanding your career beliefs, intentions and promises really does assist progress towards them (refining our knowledge as we go). Sharing them would enable us to take on board external perspectives and could make our manifestos feel like more of a meaningful contract. Both have the potential to assist career management enormously!

    Thanks for your comment Chris, as always, you give us something positive to ponder :)

    All the best,