Monday, 30 March 2009

Where the research leads...

The longer I spend in career-related work, the more supporting evidence I find for self-led choices being the best method of delivering sustainable, career-long satisfaction and success.

Work/life fusion has focused on researching, understanding and assisting this form of career decision-making and direction-finding since its very first post but - since you are asking for clarification - what exactly are self-led choices and where can all this research lead?

It is too frustrating and too simple to say that you already have the answers but there is some truth in that statement. It is more accurate to say that you can arrive at meaningful career answers through experiences that you already possess. [It also helps that the latter of these two statements can be qualified and is much more defensible too.]

This blog has referred to our past career experiences as assets. Over time, the belief that our career experiences are genuine assets hasn't changed but maybe it has become easier to express.

[Peace within a storm - see more at Saundra's Photostream here]

In the past, career support services (advice, guidance, outplacement, etc.) were happiest when they were defining our external search. In other words, individual career support was largely based on helping us find something that was missing, something that we hadn't yet found. Once an individual could see what the missing piece was (whether it was a job, a job-title, a certain level of earnings or anything else) their strategy in its simplest form amounted to little more than 'Go get it!'

Growing evidence I have encountered suggests that 'career services' will behave differently in the future and that one of the key differences will be a new emphasis on supporting self-led choice. Self-led career choices are more relevant to our individual career experiences, based more firmly on individually relevant evidence and possess a much closer fit with our individual values, talents and goals.

As it always does, time will provide the ultimate proof but the results of structured research into what each of us wants and can achieve from our individual careers, in my view creates career opportunities too exciting to miss!

Here are a couple more posts on the broader subject of self-led choice:

All the best for now,


Friday, 27 March 2009

Image news

Love them or like them a lot, the images on work/life fusion are here to stay.

One day I could see the corny jokes disappearing but my feeling is that the images will always be around.

With pictures firmly in mind, I have some exciting news to share.

The first piece of news is that we have been lucky enough - and I mean really lucky enough - to be joined by a new team member with a genuine flair for images. With numerous talents in photography and image production, Saundra will be brightening up the posts here on work/life fusion from now on.

Saundra's pictures speak thousands of words on their own but they will also add new dimensions of colour, expression and empathy to the stories and subjects we deal with here on work/life fusion. To help you identify them, each of Saundra's images will be accompanied by a link to Saundra's Flickr photostream (as with the example below):

[Pacific Ocean Pebbles - see more at Saundra's Photostream here]

The second bit of image-related news is that I have collected all of the other images used in this blog in a new Flickr Photostream that can be found here. Hopefully now that Saundra is on board you will start to see an improvement in my photography and image choices too :)

[Room for Improvement: An under-exposed picture of the Bank of England, London]

Have a great weekend wherever you are and don't forget to send in your career-related questions as and when they arise - see What career story do you want to read right now? for more details!

All the best for now,


Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Why we search

Job search is about finding work. Career research aims a little higher.

Research helps you understand the work you want and how to find it.

Career research aims for a job and an environment where you can get the most from your strengths, where you are valued for what is important to you and motivated to achieve new career goals too.

Does it sound like an impossible task when put like that? Like looking for a needle in a haystack as your Granny might say?

[Derek saw it, but his next job was a long way off]

 [Thanks to Saundra for the use of this image.

Check out her amazing Flickr Photostream here!]

Research ensures that all of your experiences count. Even the ones you might look back on as mistakes. Research helps to make your learning cumulative. Each phone call, interview, application process, networking conversation or chat over coffee, moves you one step closer to your goal. The goal of work that satisfies our short-term priorities but also moves us closer to personal career success as a long-term objective.

Earlier posts on this blog have shown how even the knock-backs and the disappointments can work in your favour. You might resolve never to make a particular error again, or that your communication will improve in a particular situation, or that your next opportunity doesn't break down for the same reasons as the last.

Stuart (a friend who is currently career researching & job searching) recently said to me that his entire career experiences are what he gets most excited about when he talks to potential employers. Not just his glowing successes or wonderful references - all of his experiences. All the past lessons, struggles, errors of judgement, obstacles and challenges too.

Stuart realised that his career experiences - when looked upon as a whole - are what make him an attractive proposition in the job market. That is because, without the full range of his experiences, he wouldn't be the same person. The person who can now confidently state where he wants his career to go in the future. The person confident he will recognise the right job opportunity when he encounters it. The person who knows what he has to say and do to make the right opportunity count.

In my opinion, Stuart is absolutely right. When we realise the value to employers in all of our career experiences, we present answers and solutions in a more human form. Our experiences can prove that we know what we are doing and where our careers are going too.

Stuart and I apologise if any of this upsets your Granny but - with the right support from career research - the needle and the haystack need no longer apply!

Here are some more posts on research, job search & managing your career:

Research not Job Search

Know what you are doing

Listening to career feedback

Career Management from within

When failure defines success

Failure & Success: Inseparable Career Twins

All the best for now,


Monday, 23 March 2009

Career milestones

A friend encouraged me to start this blog after we talked about careers long into the night on more than one occasion. I still can't thank him enough for the inspiration.

At the risk of sounding like Kate Winslet accepting an academy award, as I look back over the last year there really are too many people to thank (family, friends, readers, clients, colleagues, co-contributors, etc.).

Work/life fusion has always tried to speak with and for many voices and hopefully this multiplicity has found its way to you the reader, at least some of the time.

[Drifting into the sunset: I'm told it feels better if you're on a yacht]

As work/life fusion gets ready to start its second year, a new career writing project is just about to begin for me and I have the same feeling of uncertainty as I did when this blog was brand new.

The main difference is that I have the benefit of this year's experiences behind me this time around. It has been a tough year for many of us but a similar number will also remember it as a year of finding support, sharing encouragement, envisioning new opportunities and seeking new meaning in our individual relationship with work (evidence of all this has been shared here too).

To anyone looking ahead right now, your experiences and the experiences you have shared with others, are where you can find the inspiration and belief to keep moving forward.

Whether you are kicking off a new job search, continuing career research that started last year or just trying to understand your relationship with work a little bit better, hopefully the stories and perspectives on this blog - and others like it - have contributed something positive to your effort or at the very least reminded you that you are not alone.

A huge, personal thanks to everyone who has been a part of this blog over the last twelve months. Here's to the year ahead and the hope that it will be full of opportunities, surprises, satisfaction and success!

All the best for now,


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

What career story do you want to read right now?

If there is a story or question related to your career and you would like to read it, find it or ask it right now, leave a comment and we can research it together.

This question was first posted here but 'right now' is whenever you are reading it. It means right now. If you have only just found this question - it doesn't matter if it is today, tomorrow or next year - you can respond right now and start a completely new career research project.

 Just to recap, the idea is that you supply the career story or career question and we research it together on this blog. If there are great answers or articles out there already, we'll post them here. If the answers need researching, we can post our results here too 

[The work/life fusion wordle: make your own wordle from a favourite blog or RSS feed at]

Since Monday's post, I have had a few responses via email but have decided that the blog is the better medium for our career research. Normal posting will carry on in the meantime but once we settle on our first story (or question) we can get our first research task started.

Subjects for our research may take a little time coming but that is all part of the process. The main thing is that when the research starts, we can start making progress towards a result!

Until the research begins...

All the best for now,


Monday, 16 March 2009

What career story do you want to read right now?

What questions would it answer?

If it is out there already, where is it?

If it is not yet out there, can we create it?

[The work/life fusion tag cloud: How will it look in the future?]

Career Research has been a recent topic here - and because research demands action not just words - the best idea seemed to turn this question into a career research project and post the findings on this blog.

This is an opportunity to research the career topics and questions that you think are important and these can be the objectives of our research:

➊ If answers are already out there, we can post details or links to them here [making it easier for others to find them too]

 If the stories we want to read are missing, we can post the findings of our research on this blog [building new stories & insights together]

So, if you have a career question that you haven't found a good enough answer to yet, let's research it together and see what we can find! I will post questions & answers on this blog as we go. Together we'll make sure that we all benefit from the result!

✪ Send stories [questions to research, articles, links, etc.] via the comment feed for this post: Comments

✪ Email them to worklifefusion[at]googlemail[dot]com

 Trackback to this post here: Links to this post

All the best for now!


Friday, 13 March 2009

Comic Relief - Red Nose Day 2009

It's Red Nose Day here in the UK. You all know the drill by now but here are some links if you are still wondering what it's all about:

The motto for today is, "Do something funny for money!" If the following career anecdote makes you laugh, help the two of us meet this Comic Relief request and donate a pound to this excellent cause!

"Jonathan, worked in a team who were all very unhappy. Things hadn't gone well for the whole team for a while. Their much respected boss had recently left. Gone with him were his beliefs in hard work, personal responsibility and mutual respect.
The boss who took his place had his own ideas. Hard work was one of them but personal responsibility and mutual respect were replaced by suspicion and self-interest (and wheedling and favouritism and political subterfuge).
This change of team leadership coincided with the company hitting hard times. Redundancies had begun and Jonathan and his team were all under threat as the next round of cuts approached. To boost morale, the new boss collected Jonathan and the team together to give them a pep talk. The whole team were of the same mind before the meeting: afraid, de-motivated, disgruntled, looking for answers. You could cut the solidarity in the air with a knife!
At the end of the pep talk (which included motivational management messages to the team including, "Team well-being is not my responsibility!") the new boss asked for a show of hands to the question, "Is anyone still unhappy about this situation?"
If they were being honest, everyone's hand would have been in the air. As it was, only Jonathan's hand went up."

Maybe you had to be there for the full comic effect. Maybe you had to see with your own eyes, a management performance that Ricky Gervais would have been proud to have written. Maybe you had to see Jonathan blush. Or maybe you need to know that Jonathan's honesty, bravery, selflessness and professionalism have helped his career blossom ever since.

Maybe you just won't think this telling of the story is funny but, even if you don't laugh, see if you can still find it in your heart/wallet/purse to donate that pound, euro or dollar to Comic Relief.

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

All my best,


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Great career articles

Just a personal opinion but...

...great career articles do the following things positively:

✪ Answer questions that are important to our careers
✪ Use examples and insight to create opportunities & suggest solutions
✪ Motivate, inspire & make connections between individuals

[Great career articles don't always have random images either]

...and avoid the following negatives:

✪ Lecturing (no-one knows your career better than you)
✪ Bandwagon-Jumping (everyone else is doing it so why aren't you?)
✪ Generalising (your career is unique and so is your definition of personal success)

What's your opinion on great career articles?

For more on career articles:

All the best for now,


Monday, 9 March 2009

Listening to career feedback

Listening to feedback is important but how we react to feedback has the greater impact on our career & job search success.

Sometimes we get feedback that stops us in our tracks. After an unsuccessful job application or interview for example. In an appraisal with our boss or maybe even in a frank conversation with a friend. But what do you do with this information once you have heard it?

Do you need to change something? Should you act differently from now on? How do you know the opinion is valid? What evidence should you rely on to support or refute it?

[London Underground know we're not listening so they write on the ground too.]

'Best-in-class' career management requires that we listen to opinion & feedback regardless of its source but that we also apply questions like these before deciding what to do next:

 Has someone told me this before?
✪ How does this new information sit with someone whose judgement I trust? (a career partner for example)
 What does this feedback ask me to do differently?
✪ What facts agree/disagree with this opinion?
(e.g. in my career valuestalents & goals)
✪ If I act on this feedback, what improvements might be made?

Listening to opinion and feedback - or perspective as last week's blog post described it - is essential to our career success. Feedback confirms what we know about ourselves because it is proof that other people see it too. It also helps us to understand the things we are less aware of about ourselves and keep improving as a result.

From a career management point of view, gathering external perspectives never really stops but choosing how we apply the learning that feedback offers, is where the real gains are made.

What is the most helpful feedback you have had in your career?

Your emails & comments are welcomed as ever!

All the best for now,


Thursday, 5 March 2009

More career perspectives

A big message in a recent career management conversation has been the importance of perspective. How it is essential to career success that your view of yourself is one that the job market can agree with.

Differences in perspective are sometimes needed - particularly if you are seeking career progression and development - but there should also be fundamental agreement between the way you view yourself (experiences, strengths, challenges, etc.) and the way other people see you.

Where there are differences in perspective, we need to be aware of them to deal with the questions and responses they provoke. Differences between perspectives can become ideal talking points, explored together with recruiters, potential employers and our network of contacts, feeding valuable information to both sides.

[You haven't lost perspective. Pikachu really is that big!]

Managing perspective in this way helps you to actively bridge the gaps between the things you know you can do [with the right support, in the right environment, etc.] but have yet to prove yourself in.

Career management steps in to help you manage perspectives by providing strategic and evidential support to your conversation with the market. The job market is too mature to take long-odds bets on hiring people without relevant experience but it is flexible enough to promote the right aptitudes & attitudes and make joint commitments - between employer & employee for example - to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

So how might we prepare ourselves to manage perspectives positively?

 It is up to each of us to know the skills & experiences we possess
✪ To clearly communicate the direction we want our careers to follow in the future
✪ To take the initiative in seeking out the partnerships where opportunities can be created on both sides

These are examples of strategic career management in action. Individuals who manage career perspectives well are finding success even in this challenging employment market and - as was alluded to in an earlier post on this blog - the barrier to adopting these practices and attitudes for yourself, exclude none of us from making a positive start!

Links with more on perspective & your career:

All the best for now,


Monday, 2 March 2009

Career expertise

Career success relies on knowing your own strengths but it is also helped a great deal when you appreciate expertise in other people too.

Knowing what you do well - and when to call upon the expertise of those around you - enhances success in a number of ways.

'Best-in-class' leaders know that expertise is at its best when it is valued and applied appropriately. When this happens, experts complete their work to the best of their ability and achieve the best possible results.

As an example of the link between leadership and the value of expertise, how many times has an under-performing team had their fortunes turned around by a change in leadership before a change in team personnel?

[I'm no expert botanist but that is one tiny shell!]

The importance of knowing where our expertise lies - and when to apply it - is a big step forward in terms of career management.

Recognising and applying the expertise of those around you is an equally important step because it requires us to use our judgement objectively, values the contribution of other people and ensures that our own expertise stands out even more because it is applied only when and where it is needed the most!

For more about the importance of expertise in career management, follow these links:

All the best for now!