Career change: one step at a time

OneStep_opt

Each week I work with individuals who absolutely hate working at their organization — they are continually sick, or depressed, or cry regularly, or feel wounded, bullied or unsafe.

They usually feel that their ability to honour their authentic self is utterly impossible. They tell me that they simply do not want to go on working that way anymore!

But they do…
Why?

It’s quite simple—they don’t know what else to do. They think this is the only job that will pay them the level of compensation they need to maintain their lifestyle. They might have some other reasons, e.g. they like the people they work with, they sometimes feel challenged by work, they enjoy talking with their customers…but basically they feel trapped by golden handcuffs.

Feeling stuck is a trap

“I’m stuck, I’m shackled, I’m a slave to my pension. I have job security, but I do not enjoy the work that I am doing. I crave that creative side that seems to be missing from my life [my music, my hobby, my horses, my travel…take your pick] but I’m so drained by my job that I can’t find the energy or motivation to do anything about it.” These comments are shared by millions of employees in thousands of organizations.

Of course, we all need money to live in our society, and for many the benefits that come with government and corporate jobs are deemed essential for quality of life…who can argue with that?

But many people stay in jobs that crush them, make them sick, depressed, and unbalanced, only so they can keep a lifestyle that makes them sick in the first place and provides an insurance plan that covers them when they get sick.

Being trapped feels like an ‘all or nothing’ proposition: I’m trapped in this job because I don’t know what else that will make the same salary, so I do nothing and continue to suffer.

But that is not the reality. There are over 90,000 job titles operating in our economy—of course, they don’t all exist in the city where you live—but there are dozens of jobs you are suited for that you don’t even know about.

Ask yourself: Why aren’t I out there exploring as many other options, jobs and opportunities as possible?”

First Step

You don’t have to solve the whole problem in one go! Take the time to identify some better jobfits. That alone will ease the pain of your current situation. Career change is a process, take it one step at a time.

Here’s an easy first step: If you have a resume, take a coloured pen and highlight for me anything about your current and previous jobs that have been consistently satisfying or particularly enjoyable, i.e. job duties, projects, assignments; If there is nothing, that’s OK too. If you don’t have a resume, please do not spend time making one, just write items down for our session.

And write down anything you have done outside of work over the years that has been consistently satisfying, e.g. hobbies, sports, interests, volunteer activities, home projects, classes/assignments at uni/college/school.

Then call me 613-563-0584. In order to determine how I can best assist you with your career goals and priorities, I need to speak with you for an hour or so to go through your story in some detail.

This gives me a starting point for a basic assessment of your natural strengths and motivations. Then I can analyze your details to answer basic questions WHERE & WHAT: if you left your current job or are looking for a better one, where should you go? which orgs or work settings match your interests and values? and what should you do there? what are the specific job titles that best match your talents, experience, education, and other factors, such as your preferences, or values/priorities, and are in demand in the labour market.

At the end of the session, I can give you some specific advice on what jobs might be a good fit, and tell you what will serve you best in terms of next steps.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Career Repair: you already have the right tools

Career Repair

From our childhood to our current career, we tend to gravitate towards activities and projects that require our natural strengths. Why? Simple—we get pleasure from using our talents in situations that motivate us.

The problem is we do some things so naturally and effortlessly, we think, “Doesn’t everybody do it this way?” No, they don’t. You have a knack for achieving certain results using certain talents because that’s what energizes you—and you make it look easy. Other people might be able to do the same thing due to training or experience but it’s grunt work and drains them (they always wish they were doing something else).

Natural Strengths

For example, some individuals get energized by having an impact on the physical world. If there is a piece of equipment, or machinery, or a vehicle, or a household appliance that breaks down or is performing poorly, they repair it, or restore it to its original state. You can tell it energizes them because you can hear them humming, or whistling or singing, or just bouncing around happily as they do what comes naturally and easily to them.

If this talent is caught early in life and channeled into a particular vocation then recognized and rewarded by an employer, they might even end up with a long and happy career as an aircraft mechanic with an airline, or a pipe-fitter in a refinery, or a mechanic in the military, or a maintenance worker for public transit, or one of hundreds of jobs available from hundreds of different employers.

Even if they lose one job, they can quickly adapt or retrain for something similar in another sector because equipment, machinery, and vehicles will always wear out, or break down, or need replacing and require individuals who have a knack for impacting such physical objects with their natural talents and learned skills.

The same is true if you like to have an impact on people, or like to control how, when and where a project or plan will proceed. Or, if you are energized by pursuing and reaching a goal or a target. Or, if you get juiced by engaging in a process of discovering, developing or expressing.

True Job Security

Each general human inclination can be narrowed down to reveal your particular motivational pattern, and that pattern can be matched to dozens of specific jobs in specific work settings.

This is true job security. When you take the time to understand your motivational pattern then you don’t have to worry if you lose a job because you will already know what other sectors of the economy will recognize and reward you for what comes easily to you.

Don’t let our volatile economy catch you by surprise. Get a JobJoy career assessment done today so that you can do some long-term planning for real job security.

You already have in your hands the right tools to repair and grow your career. Put them to work in your favour.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Fitting Your Square Peg Into Round Hole of Work

Career pain is trying to fit square peg into round hole

Career research has shown that you are more likely to have job satisfaction if you have a work-role fit, one where their core job duties align with their talents, skillsets and motivations.

It’s no surprise then when the same job seems very meaningful to one person but not to another. If your essential motivation goal is to help others, commercial careers organized around attaining sales goals, status or power will feel empty.

If you get deep innate satisfaction from always learning new things and promoting your curiosity, then repetitive and structured jobs will wear you out.

If your chief interest is working with others in a setting where there is freedom to talk and interact, make new friends, then you will hate jobs where you have to spend long hours alone working independently on a task in a concentrated manner in a work setting that is not socially or personally interactive–this is why so many competent professionals hate working from home as independent consultants.

Your motivational pattern

When you do not know what their motivational pattern really is, then you will probably react in a negative manner to situations at work simply because your job does not align with your natural inclinations.

However, when you have the full picture of your talents and motivations, you have more power to find your right work or to communicate in your current job with more clarity and confidence to others what motivates you to be a productive and valued employee and thereby craft your job into a better fit.

When you are simply reacting to work circumstances and trying to fit like a square peg into a round hole, it can drive you crazy. That hole has been shaped by others with no consideration of your unique talents and motivations.

But you are not trapped because you can shape that hole to better fit you by getting knowledge about your motivational pattern.

The key to enjoyable work

Instead of reacting to your work circumstances, you can find a better fit by crafting your current job to fit you better—this is the key to enjoying your job (and life), as well as making your career (and life) more meaningful at a practical everyday level.

Let’s face it, work takes up much of our days and we all prefer to be energized not drained by our jobs.

In my next article, I will explain how you are more likely to achieve job satisfaction or find meaningful work when your job helps you to achieve longer-term goals, especially when those goals align with your core needs and values.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

How our lazy brains block career goals & what to do about it

Our lazy brains

We are creatures of habit because our brains make us that way!

Neuroscience shows that we are motivated to achieve and maintain a comfort zone because our brains equate that state of equilibrium with survival.

It’s only natural to resist change because the brain is hard-wired to respond to any stimuli or situation that disturbs our equilibrium. That’s why every news broadcast starts off with a “bad news” story—to get our attention! Our brains become alert to this news of danger, crisis, or threat at a personal level.

Earthquake in Nepal! Should I take shelter? Tornado in Texas! Should I batten down the hatches? Murderous rampage in Colorado! Should I lock my doors? Unless you or a loved one is in close proximity to these events (very unlikely) then these stories do not really effect you in any practical way.

But we can’t help listening, our brains automatically tune it. Broadcasters know it, and they use it. Why do they want us to be alert for the news broadcast? Not because the news items really matter to us but because they want us to be alert for the advertising messages that pay for the news broadcasts! The news is not a public service but a commercial one. It is a very effective way to collect ears or eyes and sell them to advertisers.

For some of us, this is Communications 101. But, even knowing this, we still listen. So, think about how many tens of thousands of hours of conditioning we have been subject to through such messaging! Our brains, broadcasters, advertising messages—these are all powerful forces to contend with and should not be underestimated.

Is it any wonder then that the prospect of losing a job, or having to look for a job, or making a career change strikes fear into the heart of anyone? Talk about crisis! Alarm bells go off when that state of affairs is disturbed—our jobs and careers go to the very heart of personal safety and stability.

The psychology of motivation

Our brains are naturally lazy and default to operations that require less energy. You’ve probably noticed this when driving a car: learning to drive takes a lot of concentration and energy but once learned we drive without really thinking about it.

While neuroscience research proves that we are meant to get in a groove and stay there, life does not cooperate. We now live in a ‘risk’ society characterized by high unemployment and a steady increase in contingent labour in volatile workplaces. Whether we like it not, more of us will have to change our jobs, our careers, our lives more often. Choosing or being forced to make a career change activates a fear response because the brain knows it’s going to have to expend a lot of energy to survive.

So, what’s the best way to deal with all this? Neuroscience and the psychology of motivation tell us to undo what we’ve learned and build a new habit. But, left on our own, we individually default back to our habits. Did you know, for example, that only 1 of 9 coronary bypass patients adopts healthier day-to-day habits after their surgery?

Changing our lives is not easy but it’s always easier when we do it with others. I focus on helping my clients build new career habits because our brains are also hard-wired to build new skills (aren’t we amazing!).

The Zeigarnik Effect

There is a concept in psychology called the Zeigarnik effect which is the ability of humans to finish a task once they’ve started—our brains resolve the tension between the present and a desired future of completion. That’s why somebody can learn to walk again after a stroke with months of rehab in small steps…literally!

Same thing with job search or career change, we can build new habits, new skills, that move us closer to a goal. It’s not rocket science, anyone can do it! The key is motivation, i.e. the desire to walk again.

That is the purpose of a JobJoy Report: to give you the desire to make a career change, to see with clarity the specific jobs and work settings that will recognize, reward and motivate you for what comes naturally and effortlessly.

Turning that desire into reality means working three major components to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity. Once a new career is identified, we move into that space with deliberate, intentional, systematic and effective actions.
But start small, take an action, evaluate the result to see if it moves you closer to your goal or not. If it doesn’t move you closer, then look to see what is to be learned from that action, if anything, and adjust. If it does move you closer to your goal then what is the next action to take?

Unlearning old habits, learning new skills, this is the rhythm of successful change.

We persist through inevitable challenges and setbacks that are just part of life. Anyone who has ever had a goal (like wanting to lose ten pounds or run a marathon) probably immediately realizes that simply having the desire to accomplish something is not enough. Achieving such a goal requires the ability to persist through obstacles and endurance, to keep going in spite of difficulties. But there are certain times during the process where you turn up the heat, bear down on your goal, do your utmost to accomplish your goal.

Of course, finding another job or career is more complicated than that and depends on a lot of other things but the point is this: anyone can do it if they want to. The key is in your motivation.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Career change as a halfway house experience

I am working this year with several clients who describe their work life as a prison sentence: five days in the big house with weekend parole (ankle monitor attached!)

Career change ankle monitor

About 95% of offenders are eventually released from prisons to be integrated back into civil society. Many spend the last year or two of their sentence in houses on a street near you. These residences are known as ‘halfway houses’ because they represent a re-entry point between incarceration and freedom.

A halfway house offers transition programs to help offenders ‘let go’ of their prison identity through counselling. They get job training and work and pay rent as they develop a ‘new’ identity and learn to function in the ‘real’ world.

Career change is a similar process for many individuals who spend years imprisoned in a particular job role that defines who and what they are. Getting out of that prison also involves a letting go of one identity and developing a new one, not an easy task for most people.

Recidivisim

Recidivism rates for halfway house occupants is 60%+ in many jurisdictions because convicts reoffend within 3 years of their release date and land back in prison. Successful integration back into society depends on a number of critical factors, including the motivation of offenders to change their lives and the quality of programs that support them to do so.

My research indicates that the same factors are often at work in successful career change. Individuals find that living in that “halfway” point of transition is very uncomfortable. It causes them to re-evaluate their past, think about their future, adjust their ideas and beliefs—a lot of inner work to find their motivation to make real change in their lives.

And, of course, they don’t live in a vaccum. Whether in prison or out, we have structure all around us–constraints, rules, limitations but also freedom, choices and new opportunities. Embracing freedom is not easy because it often requires new skills to navigate through an obstacle course of options.

Letting go of career pain

The biggest issue that I see for career changers is letting go of the past. If their previous work/life experiences were difficult or painful then it is a challenge to face their fears of the future. They might know rationally that the past is over and does not determine the future, but they don’t believe their future will be any different really because work for them has always been a disappointing or painful experience. So, in effect, what they believe is that the past is the best indicator of the future.

But all our thinking about the past doesn’t change the future. We have to change the channel on our experience.

We must focus on the present in order to create a better future—that is the purpose of the “halfway” transition. It is to accept reality for what it is, you can’t change the past, so focus on finding some hope in the present—life can be better! This fact can bring a new burst of creative energy and help us find some pleasure or joy in current experiences.

If you thought that the key to success was to have the right attitude, faith, or courage, then you will be disappointed when things don’t work out. I’m not saying that ideas, beliefs and attitudes aren’t important but nobody ever lost weight just by thinking so. If we don’t find more pleasure in our lower weight than we did in having too much weight, then we will lose the motivation to keep off the weight and start our emotional eating once again. That’s why losing weight usually requires a change in lifestyle—a more enjoyable one!—in order to keep off the weight.

Why do so many offenders go back to prison? It’s the same reason that so many people stay in a job they hate or, worse yet, go back to a similar situation—they ignore reality as it is. Instead, they have a better chance of making a successful transition if they look at their current reality with a clear eye, open mind, and truthful awareness.

For some offenders, changing their lifestyle or habits is so painful, they prefer to go back to jail, to a known future with a roof over the heads and three squares a day.

Freedom through action

But, the reality is that jail hurts too, it has its own kind of pain. They choose the pain of incarceration over the joy of freedom because their experience of ‘freedom’ was very negative (in truth, they never really experienced freedom but only some cheap imitation of it).

Freedom is not easily acquired. You don’t achieve it with mind tricks that are designed to hide reality by imposing a positive spin on it. It’s about looking at what you really want, where you really want to be, the kind of life you really want, and taking actions now that move you closer to that goal.

That takes work, effort, persistence, to get what you want. For some people, it’s just easier to let the institution provide them with a roof over their heads and three square a day. But that’s a lifestyle, not a life; that’s prison, not freedom.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Are you ready for the new world of work?

New Career

It’s easy to manage your career when the world of work is stable and follows a set of rules that both employers and employees agree upon. This was the ‘cradle-to-grave’ job security that formed an unwritten social contract for decades since WWII. It allowed our society to move forward with political stability and economic affluence.

Hey! rub-a-dub-dub, three fools in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair.

This nursery rhyme captures the spirit of that social contract, the notion that a rising tide of GDP floated all boats and carried everyone along on a light-hearted trip to a future of fun.

That social contract has been torn to shreds in North America by changing social and economic conditions, such as the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector and the millions of high-paying unionized jobs that went with it; the outsourcing of other jobs to Asia; the shift to lower-paying service jobs; the pervasive 24/7 reach of cellphones and other technologies that make it harder to establish boundaries between work and home; and other social trends and issues.

Did you know that the top 10 in-demand occupations of 2015 had not been invented in 2000? Or, that more information will be created next year than was created in the last 5,000 years. Or, that the average person will make 7 to 14 occupational changes by age 38?

Yes, it is much more difficult to manage your career in this millennium than the last. Did you wake up this morning dreaming of a future as a:

• Gamification Specialist
• Social networking affiliate manager
• Nano-mechanic
• Old age wellness manager
• Memory augmentation surgeon
• Weather modification police
• Waste data handler
• Personal brander/communications advisor
• Parallel programmer?

Probably not. If you thought about the changing world of work at all, you probably asked yourself: “Where do I fit in this world? What is available to me? How do I achieve a balance between my needs and all of the forces and influences around me?”

Big business, big government, and big unions have shown quite clearly since 2000 that they cannot provide guaranteed careers for a lifetime of work because they cannot control external variables, such as financial markets, climate change, technological revolutions, terrorism, and other influences on the economy.

These questions are best answered, I suggest, by shifting our career management strategy from an objective perspective, one that uses linear thinking–such as go to a good school, get good grades, get a good job, and climb a ladder of promotions and income—because that job-for-life will not be there.

Instead, we need to prepare our selves and our children to think about work in terms of fluidity and flexibility to meet the challenge of much change in a short period of time.

In order to meet these challenges in the external world, we may need to better master our internal world, to get a better understanding of our talents, beliefs, motivations, and values in order to shift efficiently and effectively with the twists and turns of a global economy and social upheaval. We need to know what hard skills we are suited to acquire and sell in the marketplace, and we need to know what soft skills we are suited to developing to sell those skills. In short, we need to think more subjectively.

Prepare yourself and your children to adapt to this rapidly changing world. Moving from an objective way of thinking about career to a subjective way of thinking is not easy but it starts with understanding your “life story” and how it relates to the kind of work we are best suited for as individuals and where that connects to the social world.

In the coming months, I will write more about how you can build and sustain the energy, enthusiasm and skills to be continuous adapting to this changing world of work, and especially how to find the fun in doing so!

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Is job search a problem to be solved or part of your creative process? – Part 2

Problem Solving your career?

In my previous blog on this topic, I asked ‘Are your career goals organized around solving problems or creating what you want?” Whether you are pursuing a short term goal, like getting a new job in the next 90 days, or going after a longer term goal, such as changing your career completely—an important lesson to remember is this: you don’t get there all at once!

You build. You plan certain steps, and then you take certain actions. You start with something workable, and then you begin to develop it.

However, many people will simply react to their current circumstances. If they think their employer is downsizing, merging with another company, or going bankrupt, they will start looking for another job because losing a job is a problem to be solved. They do what they think they should do, i.e. go to job boards, look for postings, and apply online for their resume. They don’t usually think much about how the process works, why it functions they way it does, and so on.

Then, when they don’t get any callbacks for interviews, they start to panic and think something is wrong with them: “my resume is no good, I don’t have enough experience for that job, I’m getting too old, I don’t have enough education, I live in the wrong part of the country.” They start to blame themselves instead of understanding the dynamics of supply & demand at work in the job market and how job boards relate to those dynamics.

Problem solving is about reacting to circumstances.

Creating is about resolving the tension between where you want to be and where you are now. For example, if you want a new job, you can start by picking a job target. What is the job title that you are going to package/position yourself for? Is it the same one you have now, or slightly different, or very different? Where do you want to work? Do you have a list of 10-20 preferred employers? Getting clarity about where you want to be is a crucial step in creating your next job.

Next, make a list of where you’re at now. What personal strengths and professional assets do you have that will help you create your next opportunity. Do you have an up-to-date resume? Do you know how to use LinkedIn for job search? What about offline—do you know how to approach recruiters and agencies? Or prospect for opportunities through professional associations? Or network for referrals through your personal & professional contacts?

Are you introspective and like to plan, strategize and think? How can you leverage these strengths into your job search? Or, are you extroverted and like to meet with people and take actions? Do you know how to curb your impulsiveness and optimize your time & energy to get the biggest impact for your job search?

Creating your next job opportunity takes a little practice.

Start by using your strengths, your assets, and your preferences for how you like to do things. Taking actions that are based on your natural inclinations will build your confidence, something you need a lot of in a job search!

Not all of your actions will be efficient or effective but some will move you closer to your goal of a new job. You begin to get a clearer picture of what that job might look like. You begin to see where you are in current reality. Then, your mind begins to invent new ways to create that outcome.

This is the key to true job search, resolving the structural tension in favor of the desired outcome. Steadily and surely, you move from where you are now to a new job, building up your job search skills, and taking one action after another, learning as you go to take more effective actions until your goal is achieved!

Don’t get caught up or bummed out by a problem you can’t solve. Getting a new job is not a problem. It is part of a process with an outcome that you can create.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

It’s a New Year: Are your career goals organized around solving problems or creating what you want? – part 1

New Year 2015

You have a job now, right? And maybe you don’t like it. Or you’ve been thinking about a midlife career change but you don’t know what else you could do and still make money.

So, now your life is taken up with reacting to the circumstances of your situation. How can I work less and make more? I hate the office, how can I work 3 days at home, 2 days at the office? My colleagues annoy me, how can I transfer to another unit? I’m stressed out, how can I get leave with pay?

In short, these problems start to dominate your everyday life. You are trapped into reacting against the prevailing problems of your life–they suck up your time, energy, and money as you seek a way out.

Problem solving is one of the worst ways to try to build the life you want. Here is a simple truth: you can solve all of your problems and still not have what you want. For example, you get leave without pay only to find that the same position is not waiting for you when you return to work; instead, the new job is worse! Or, you transfer to another unit, only to find the work is boring or the workplace toxic. Or, you find no motivation for working by yourself at home, you can’t get the work done, and you get laid off.

When you are trapped into reacting against the prevailing problems of your life, you are led away from thinking in terms of desired outcomes. When you are in this problem orientation, you get ‘stuck’ in your career. You can’t create from that orientation.

Creating the career you want is certainly possible when you approach it as an orientation and a skill. A creative orientation is a process that involves proven steps that move you from where you are now to a state of being that doesn’t yet exist. If you were to create a painting, a sculpture, or a poem, you are creating a product that doesn’t yet exist. You can do the same thing with career change—you can create an outcome that doesn’t yet exist.

If your career is the subject matter of the creative process, then you need to have some idea of the outcome, what it might look like, feel like, knowing what you want. That might sound simple but it is where most people get stuck. Instead of working on what it is they want, they work on answering other questions: What will make me happy? How should I live my life? What is my purpose? What is meaningful to me? Important questions, to be sure, but the answers are not necessary for creating what you want in a career.

Most people get stuck in their career because they can’t “see” another option. They don’t think about what they want, but rather, what they think they should want from a limited menu of available items. The subtext is: find the proper response. For example, at this age, you should be in this kind of position earning this amount of money in your career. We are supposed to think there is a proper response. If your circumstances don’t match that “proper response” then your life becomes a problem, rather than what you truly want based on your natural inclinations. This is how problem-solving rather than creating becomes the organizing principle in your life.

This is an important part of the work I do as a job change expert—to create a ‘new’ picture, an accurate and reliable picture, of what that work or career might look like, based on a creative orientation, by focusing on your natural strengths, motivations, values and preferences.

Then, on the skill level, you create that new picture. Creating the career you want is not rocket science but it is a skill and like any skill needs to be learned and applied in an efficient and effective manner to get the outcome you want.

That will be the subject of my next post.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Why does networking work? – Part 2

Networking

In my previous article, I provided job change advice and explained why the biggest source of external hiring for employers is not from resumes submitted online but from referrals. In short, networking works because it focuses on the needs and priorities not of you, the job searcher, but of the hiring manager.

As a certified job change expert who has been a hiring manager, I want to explain why referrals are so highly regarded by managers. If you’ve had to hire individuals, this will make a lot of sense to you. If you’ve never had to hire anyone, then try to put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager.

A manager’s job in any organization—public, private, or nonprofit—is to help that org reach its corporate goals and objectives. That’s why managers get paid the big bucks, have fancy job titles, and get lots of perks…they have a lot of responsibility to ensure their employer thrives. If they don’t succeed, their employer doesn’t succeed, and their career is in jeopardy!

So, managers are busy managing plans, priorities, projects, programs, schedules, budgets, people, equipment, machinery, and more! They spend little time hiring unless, of course, they experience high turnover of staff (which is usually symptomatic of deeper problems in the org), or they are in a high growth phase and need to staff up quickly.

In addition, most managers are not trained to hire, don’t enjoy it because of what’s at stake—one bad hire can make their life miserable or ruin their career!—and, while they may have some real talents for managing priorities or budgets, it doesn’t mean they have a knack for hiring.

The point is: hiring is problematic for managers! Hiring is stressful. Many managers are on the edge of burnout from performing their regular job duties, and the added stress of hiring puts a bigger load on their shoulders and can push them over that edge into serious health problems. What to do?

As human beings, when things are difficult, we find ways to make them easier by cutting corners, or shifting our efforts, or streamlining process. So, managers turn to each other for support. Let’s say I’m a manager suddenly faced with the prospect of hiring a half dozen new employees to service a new account. I’ll call up a friend and say, “Hey. Bill, I’ve got tickets to the next big game, let’s go blow off some steam!” So Bill and I end up hootin’ & hollerin’ & blowin’ off steam cheering for our Ottawa Sens hockey team…but my job is important to me. Pretty soon I start telling Bill: “I’ve got to do a bunch of hiring. I hate it. It’s so hard to find these technical specialists, so hard to hire them, so hard to keep them!”

And Bill responds: “Hey, shutup, I’m trying to enjoy the game! Listen, I know this guy, known him for years, he’s very competent, reliable, dependable, he might be just what you need. I’ll give him your phone number. Do yourself a favor when he calls next week, take his call!”

And, I go, “Phew! Thank goodness for Bill, he makes my life so much easier. I won’t have to spend a lot of time getting to know his referral because Bill knows him. And I like Bill, I respect him, I trust him. If he’s vouching for this guy, it’s as good as me knowing him myself. I can’t wait for him to call next week. I’m going to seriously consider hiring him.”

That’s why referrals work, not because of you and your resume. But because a hiring manager is getting a referral from a source he likes, respects and trusts. The hiring manager’s professional life is suddenly made easier, he can move one more item from the To Do list to the Done list.

How do you contact people in order to get in their pipeline? Click here.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.

Why does networking work? – Part 1

Why networking works

A large recruiting company did a survey recently of about 250 of the largest companies in the U.S., mostly well-known brands of national and international scope that cover a range of major industries. They wanted to find out what were the major sources of hiring for these companies.

They found that most hires, about 45%, are done internally by promoting or transferring existing staff. The biggest source of hiring outside the company was from referrals, about 25% of hires. What is true for these huge companies is true for most companies of 500 employees or more in Ottawa or anywhere.

Moreover, a job seeker who is referred is conservatively 3-4 times more likely to be hired (some studies have found that a job seeker who is referred is 14 times more likely to be hired) than someone who applies for a position without a referral. This is essential information for anyone seeking a job or wanting to make a job change.

In a recent article, I explained how networking works, but WHY is it so effective?

The answer is simple: human nature.

The problem with human beings is that we are not perfect! We all have weaknesses, shortcomings, faults, biases, prejudices and vices. In short, there is a downside to every individual. Every potential employee is a risk to a manager… a risk that might jeopardize his or her career!

You are an unknown quantity. Human beings are full of rational and irrational fears when it comes to protecting their self-interests. You need to understand how hiring works from the employer’s point of view.

As a certified job change expert, I have also been in the position to hire others. Believe me, when a hiring manager looks at resumes from people whom they don’t know, they might be thinking: “This person looks good on paper but what if they have a personality flaw and can’t get along with anybody here, we get into a dispute, end up in a grievance or, worse, end up in court? What if they have a secret addiction and fall to pieces as soon as I give them a deadline or put them under pressure, and we lose our biggest account, millions of dollars in revenue, and the CEO fires me? What if they have a secret agenda to [insert your irrational fear of choice]?

We live in a litigious society, and managers must protect themselves from litigation, not to mention all the aggravation that comes with making a bad hire. One of the easiest ways to do that is to minimize risk. Since you, as a job seeker, are a potential risk, the easiest way to minimize that risk is to NOT hire you.

In other words, a manager will not hire you until they feel SAFE with you. And, they cannot feel safe with you, unless they meet you face-to-face. In most cases, managers are not going to jeopardize their careers by hiring candidates with whom they don’t feel safe.

As human beings, we fear what we don’t know. I’m not saying it’s right or equitable or fair; it’s human nature!

When you approach potential employers as a stranger, their automatic fear response kicks in because they don’t know you, and they fear what they don’t know.

Here is some key job change advice: networking is not first and foremost about you, about your needs and priorities for a job. It’s first and foremost about a manager’s need to protect his/her career, to ensure that they can proceed with developing their career without looking over their shoulder. They want you to cover their back.

This is why the old adage, “People hire who they know” is so true…not because of nepotism, cronyism, or corruption (all exist of course but rarely operate in a hiring situation which is governed by law and common sense)…but because of human nature, the desire for a sure thing, the desire to first, protect, then promote our own careers.

In this context, my next article will explain why referrals are so highly regarded by managers, why it helps make a hiring decision easier.

George Dutch is the Founder and Chief Joy Officer at JobJoy. He has worked blue collar, white collar, private sector, public sector, and nonprofit. He has undertaken 3 major career transitions in his life, including two moves between continents with no prospect of a job, then landed lucrative positions. He knows of what he speaks because he's lived it. A certified career professional for the past 20 years, he has coached and consulted with thousands of individuals across North America and internationally. He can help you get ahead in both career and life with his proven services.