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.

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and get a better job!

'Tis the season to be jolly

As a certified job change expert, I am an advocate of a two-pronged approach to Job Search: be passive online and pro-active offline. During this holiday season in Ottawa and elsewhere, here’s 4 job change advice tips to increase your chances of landing a good job, changing to a better job, or advancing your career with your current employer.

1. Go to office parties, professional association year-ends, social club celebrations, neighborhood gatherings. People are almost always in a good mood during this festive season, more open to conversation, more relaxed about sharing their professional goals and corporate challenges. Use this time to build rapport with people who have the power to hire you or network for referrals to people who can. Networking is not rocket science but it is a skill. You’ve already learned many skills in your life, learn this one too! It has a great Return on Investment of your time and energy.

2. Get into conversations that can be converted to job offers. Keep the business talk light but focused, or make a date to talk in more depth after the holidays. Listen for cues, e.g. planned expansions, new projects, progress blockers, and all the issues that generate work in an organization. New business goals and priorities always face challenges, problems, issues and pressures–discussions around priorities vs challenges is where you next job offer will formulate. Gather information, take a few minutes to record notes on your phone, or write them down on a card. Then take some time over the holidays to think about what you’ve heard. Many organizations are preparing to hire in the New Year. You probably won’t start your new job during the holiday season, but it’s quite possible to receive an offer early the next year.

3. Follow up in a few weeks time. Don’t mix business with pleasure. Use the social gatherings at the end of the year to build rapport, then follow up in a business-like manner early in the New Year. Use the info you gathered during the social events to formulated some talking points, ideas that address some of the opportunities and challenges you heard about. The seeds you plant at parties can pay off big time by the time the next hiring season rolls around in Spring2015. Use social media not to establish rapport but to maintain the rapport you developed face-to-face at the holiday get-togethers. Send a message to these contacts inviting them to coffee or lunch reminding them what you talked about during the holiday season or raising an issue that you think might be interesting to talk about.

4. Be prepared. Luck favors those who prepare ahead of time, so learn to interview now before you go to parties because informal chitchats at parties can quickly convert into (in) formal interviews. Hiring is driven by the needs and priorities of a manager. Learn how to tap into those needs and leverage them into a job offer. Just this week I heard from a client in Florida who’d been seeking a position as an IT Project Manager. He’d sent out 50+ resumes and had 8 interviews but no job offers when he hired me to give him interview coaching. We reviewed his interviews, and I could clearly see what he needed to improve in his interview performance. After one session of coaching, his next interview resulted in an excellent job offer with a major telecom firm!

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.

The Peter-Out Principle

Peter-out Principle

As we get older, it is harder and harder to do work we don’t enjoy. Why? Because our energy gets drained by such work…leaving us less and less energy for what we really want to do. This is the Peter Out principle, not to be confused with the infamous Peter Principle.

I have written elsewhere about that one, the notion that people get promoted on the job because of their natural flair for doing certain kinds of work until they reach a level of incompetence because that new job doesn’t require any of their natural talents or motivations. Or, to put it in more simple terms, people advance in their career until they stop having fun.

Many others, of course, never find that fun to begin with. They fall into a job, or take a job because they needed to support their kids, or because they don’t know what else to do. Work, for them, often becomes a grind, a duty, or an obligation to pay bills, cover the mortgage, or take care of family. It’s our bargain with the devil of job security that leads to dissatisfaction or worse:

“I’m stuck. I’m shackled in the golden handcuffs. I have good leave benefits and look forward to a half decent pension, but I do not enjoy the work that I am doing. I crave that creative side that seems to be missing from my life and yet I never seem to get around to. I find that there needs to be a buffer of time to get the ‘creative juices’ flowing- time I don’t seem to have after-work commitments and commuting. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall….” This is a complaint I hear again and again from men and women in mid-career or middle age. It is experienced by huge numbers of people.

This is the Peter-Out Principle in action. The origin of the phrase peter out is thought to be associated with the name St. Peter, which in medieval France may have morphed into slang for the male sex appendage. So, to peter out means to fall off in power, to dwindle away to…nothing.

As far back as 1962, psychologist Abraham Maslow discovered that one of the best–if not the best–way to achieve personal power is through work. “All human beings prefer meaningful work to meaningless work. If work is meaningless, then life comes close to being meaningless.” In his hierarchy of needs, Maslow was simply pointing out what we all know to be true: that work is not just about making money, it’s also about making meaning.

Doing our work well requires some competency, confidence, or power. When our enthusiasm for work fizzles out, fades away, we might say we are petering out. When we work just for money, our desire for meaning, for vitality, for life ebbs away, tapers off, melts away–it peters out!

When considering this truth, I can’t help but think of Hazel McCallion, the mayor of Mississauga, Canada’s 9th largest city, who first won office at age 57 and just retired at age 93. If she worked only for money, she’d have retired a long time ago. No one could accuse her of petering out! She is one example of many who prove it is never too late to find work that energizes you.

As a job change expert, my goal is to help you do so by identifying, defining and mobilizing your Aptitudes, Attitudes, and Appropriate Actions.

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.

Managers Control Timing of Hiring: Get in Their Pipeline

People Pipeline for Managers

This is one of the key principles that I use when helping my clients find permanent positions. Every hiring manager has a pipeline that they fill with prospective employees because (1) they are always looking for good people, and (2) they know they must hire them at some point. It’s not a question of IF but when.

A year ago, one of my clients got laid off after 25+ years with the same employer, a large defense contractor. My client was devastated but keen to get a similar job ASAP. He did what most people do, and sent out dozens of resumes to online postings with no positive results. He got extremely discouraged, even angry. He’d never needed to look for a job before, and it was a very negative experience for him.

I’m not saying he or anybody else shouldn’t look online but the U.S. Department of Labor reports that only 5% of people in the workforce are hired by submitting resumes to online postings. Therefore, I suggested to my client that he spend only 10-20% of his time & energy looking for a job that way, and to be more pro-active in his job search by networking for referrals to find job opportunities, not job vacancies.

I have written elsewhere on the difference between a job vacancy and a job opportunity, and how to find them. The key here is I coached my client on how to reconnect with former clients and brief them on his new employment priorities and preferences and ask, “Do you know anyone I can talk to?” One such approach resulted in a referral from a contact in Halifax to a hiring manager at a naval engineering firm in Montreal.

My client arranged a coffee meeting during one of the manager’s routine visits to Ottawa last November. That manager indicated there may be some job opportunities opening up in the near future. My client came to count on this vague verbal hint at a job. He followed up by email and phone for several months and heard nothing back…and got very discouraged again.

I reminded him that getting another job was his top priority but the hiring manager had other pressing concerns, another crisis to deal with, another fire to put out. And, he may be waiting for the conclusion to a very large deal that could take more time to come to fruition than he or anybody expects.

I encouraged my client to maintain the rapport he established with that manager by sending him an update every 2 months. In the meantime, I suggested to my client that he keep looking for other opportunities. He was able to land a few short-term contracts.

Then out of the blue this week, that hiring manager called this week to offer him a permanent job starting next month almost to the day of their coffee meeting a year ago!
You can’t control the timing of a job opportunity. It will materialize according to the needs and priorities of the employer.

Your job as a job seeker is to get in the pipeline, maintain a relationship with the hiring manager, keep your skills current, and persist with your job search.
In this stagnant economy, persistence pays off!

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.

Avoid Burnout & Advance Career – Get in the zone!

Advance Career

Flow−the experience we have when we’re “in the zone”−has been studied for decades by psychologist Csikszentmihalyi. During a flow state, people are fully absorbed and highly focused…they lose themselves in the activity.

When your work utilizes your natural talents and motivations, when your daily grind is helping to create what really matters to you in life, then you are in your right work. There is a flow to it, an innate satisfaction abounds from it, and you derive genuine joy from what you do, a joy that is clearly evident to others.

Every job has a downside. We all have tasks we detest. Doing calculus homework in high school, for example, might be boring and hard if you have no knack for solving logical problems through numbers. You start but feel mentally exhausted, and you know you’re not getting the right answers.

But, you might also be an aspiring architect. Your math teacher clearly explains in detail how calculus can help you design more creative and ambitious structures. Your aspiration is personally important to you and the idea of creating interesting structures fascinates you. Suddenly, you see calculus in a new light. Instead of feeling exhausted by your homework, you now feel energized and motivated to learn to solve these problems. It’s the same work, but it now has a very different psychological effect on you.

Similarly, you might be in a helping profession, such as counselling, and have a strong desire to be self-employed in private practice working one-on-one with individual clients. But you can’t practice unless you have a funnel of clients who want your services. You don’t have a sales bone in your body. You once had a sales job and suffered burnout–it almost killed you.
But, now you gladly research sales and marketing tools techniques and implement them because your aspiration for self-employment is greater than you distaste for sales. You start to get clients and feel energized which, in turn, keeps you motivated to do the sales and marketing necessary to bring in clients.

Research shows that interest helps us perform our best without feeling fatigued. In one recent study, psychologists asked a group of undergraduates to work on word puzzles. Before they began, they were told them how exciting and enjoyable the task would be. Then they read a statement that framed the task as either personally valuable or of neutral value.

Those who read the first statement, and who also thought the task would be enjoyable, solved the most problems. Their engagement was more efficient because they were “in the zone” and not simply working on problems for a long period of time.

Psychology experiments often get participants to squeeze a spring-loaded exercise grip for as long as they can while performing another task to see if this increased performance makes people feel fatigued, or if high interest in a task maintains their mental resources. Much like the self-control needed to stay on task when we would rather do something more fun, resisting the urge to let go of your grip when it becomes uncomfortable also requires self-control. And that exertion of self-control is mentally fatiguing.

So, in a follow up study, psychologists found that people who thought the puzzle was highly enjoyable and highly important not only performed among the best, again, but they also squeezed the hand grip the longest. In other words, they solved the most problems, and it was not mentally exhausting for them. In contrast, those who were uninterested in the task generally performed worse, let go of the grip sooner, and were mentally fatigued by the effort.

Interest matters. It is crucial to keeping us motivated and effective without emptying our mental gas tank, and it can turn the mundane into something exciting.

Knowing the subject matter that most interests you, knowing your natural talents and motivations can help you harness “flow” to your advantage—to find your right work or advance your career.

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.

Writing the wrongs of job loss

Job Loss

Have you ever lost a job, been terminated one way or another? Not fun, right? Most people feel considerable anger and hostility about their termination experience–It’s not fair! It’s not right! Why me? Stupid management! Terrible decision!

The conventional wisdom among career professionals is to ignore these highly charged emotions and get their clients looking for another job right away. I beg to differ.

My personal and professional experience has demonstrated to me the necessity of taking time to deal with these feelings of anger, disappointment, and pain of rejection in an effective manner…before it deals with you!

The negative effects of job loss can be devastating for many individuals. I have learned that expressing these highly charged feelings, safely, helps to mitigate their power over individuals.

For example, I have a client who was terminated after 20+ years with the same company; even after six months he still gets angry about the “injustice” of his layoff, then falls into a depressive episode. I encouraged him to sit down, whenever this situation occurs, and write out his thoughts and feelings, just let it flow out in a stream of consciousness, no censoring, no editing. As he says, “the very act of articulating our thoughts and feelings can have a normalizing effect on the emotional state.”

Scientific proof

It is one thing to know this but another to prove it through a scientific approach. Luckily, that’s exactly what was done when researchers Spera, Buhrfeind & Pennebaker (1994) designed a study to address the emotional effects of job loss with 63 recently unemployed professionals (mostly middle-aged engineers). They tested the impact of disclosive writing on their subsequent reemployment activity and success.

Interestingly, results showed no real difference between experimental and control groups on behaviours related to:

a. reducing stress as indicated by self-report measures and physiological markers (blood pressure, weight, and heart rate); or,
b. increasing motivation to look for another job as evidenced by phone calling, letter writing, and interviewing behaviours.

Notably, however, the researchers did find that those who wrote about their thoughts and emotions were reemployed more quickly than those who wrote about non-traumatic topics or those who did not write at all.

They caution both job seekers and their career counsellors about dismissing this psychological processing in favour of immediate job search activity.

do-kids-write-autobiography-themselves-120X120

In addition, the subjects themselves were adamant that the writing process would have been more useful to them at the time of departure from their jobs than it was several months later.

That is why writing exercises are at the core of what I do. Yes, it is important to express feelings about job loss in order to clear some emotional space to move on to another job or change careers. But it is also essential in my view to write about times in your life when you are doing what you enjoy most and well, in order to establish more clarity and confidence about what you offer others through your work.

Discharge negative feelings, then recharge with proof positive of your strengths and value in the world of work!

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.

Running Off the Rails on a Crazy Train

Running off Rails on Crazy Train

In our society, it is normal to conform to the expectations of others. Most of us learn early in life to act on what others say, value and expect, especially from parents, teachers, family, experts.

In some ways it easier to do what others tell us: “In order to get ahead in life, I need good grades in school, so I will tell my teacher what s/he wants to hear, jump through the hoops, get it over and done with, so I can do the same thing in a job—and get paid for it.”

Subtle Messages

We listen to subtle messages that steer us into a particular career: “my mother said I was good with people and belong in a caring profession”; “my father always said I was no good at finishing things”; “you can’t make any money doing what I love!” So, we follow others into the family business, or the military, or a profession, or try to guess where the jobs will be in 20 years.

We get on a career track and stick with it. In other words, what our parents tell us, what society expects of us, what skills are required by the economy—is rational—and if we don’t conform to those messages, then we, as individuals, are irrational!

And, for most of us, that works for much of the time…until it doesn’t. Like train travel, a safe and efficient mode of transportation, we ride our career track until we reach a destination—the expected one of retirement of the unexpected one of a layoff.

Career goes off the rails

We usually aim at becoming something without ever taking the time to shape our own identity…then, we suddenly realize that we had no desire to get on that train at all.

It’s enough to drive any sane person a little crazy!

Internal conflicts (often represented by toxic stress or mental health issues) and external circumstances (change in life circumstances, such as job loss, illness, divorce) may require big changes in our lives…changes that can only be achieved by finding personal power and meaning in life.

Science to the Rescue

During the past 25 years, over 200 scientific studies have been published pointing to the power of narrative therapy to positively affect biological processes (including immune function) associated with health and illness. In addition, the power of expressive exercises, involving both emotional and cognitive topics, has benefited many individuals dealing with a range of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual issues, such as cancer, heart disease, depression, cystic fibrosis, asthma, arthritis, alienation, isolation, and more.

Narrative counselling or therapy is designed:

- to help you resolve certain work/life issues;
- to give you a better understanding of your personal life story in its many dimensions and how it shapes or influences your work, career, relationships, and life;
- to repair your story;
- to create a better life.

In short, your current personal narrative is deconstructed so that a more adaptive story can be re-authored, a new or second story that gives you more power to make effective changes in your work and life, including better relationships with yourself and others.

Visit my counselling page to get more info on how narrative therapy can clear space in your life to generate a new beginning, a new work identity, a new role in society, or new opportunities.

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.

If jobs are created around scarce resources, what is lacking in our new economy?

Jobs with Meaning & Purpose

When we had a scarcity of food, we had an Agrarian Economy. When we had a scarcity of tools, equipment, machinery, clothes, houses, we had an Industrial Economy. When we had a scarcity of data, facts, and methods to make decisions, we had an Information Economy.

Some people say we are now in a Knowledge Economy because we have a scarcity of principles and logic to understand, explain, predict certain phenomena in the world. But, if economics is about scarce things, then we don’t actually have a Knowledge Economy because these days knowledge is freely available on the Internet.

In addition, billions of people in Asia are learning math, science, and English and our ‘knowledge’ jobs here in North America are being outsourced to cheaper labor markets, which dampens employer demand for knowledge workers on this side of the pond. For several decades, economists have been encouraging workers to get more education in knowledge industries to ensure job security. And they were right…until now!

The job market is subject to supply and demand economics. Twenty years ago, the economy was hot and growing due to the hi-tech boom. There was so much demand from employers for skilled labor–especially IT, telecom, and other hi-tech skills—and such a shortage of IT talent, that employers had to look beyond their local areas, across the country, even across the world to find enough skilled people to fill those jobs.

Job boards were developed as brokers to put these buyers & sellers of labor together, and they were very effective. As more and more people were sucked into the hi-tech sector, lots of openings were created in other sectors, including financial services, education, health, manufacturing, retail, food & beverages and so on. If you had any kind of skills, education, or experience, you could throw your resume online and you were sure to get calls from internal & external recruiters. Those were the days!

But, when the recession of 2008 hit, employers in America laid off 10M+ workers. Suddenly, and since then, employers have had very little demand for new employees. Except in certain places, like the oil&gas sector of northern Alberta, and other pockets where certain skills are in demand.

Some people say jobs are scarce, but they aren’t. There is never a shortage of jobs, although often there is a shortage of money or will to bribe people to do some of it. Generally speaking, we are in a ‘jobless’ recovery as corporations hoard money due to lack of confidence in economic prospects.

Besides, most people who want paying jobs have paying jobs. That’s why governments have foreign worker programs to bring in people to do jobs at a pay that most other people won’t accept. For many people in developing countries, who have next to nothing in terms of material things, they are quite happy to work just for money.

This only proves there is no job scarcity. Jobs go begging because most people do not have a burning desire to do certain work for its own sake–e.g. clean hotel rooms, flip burgers, pick crops, butcher beef, and so on—because they cannot see a point to it all. In short, their work lacks purpose.

Our higher levels of education increase our expectations. Once our physiological needs are met, we pursue love and belonging, which will give us self-esteem, confidence, and the respect of others. Our expectation is to become all we are capable of. Flipping burgers doesn’t cut it any more.

When something is in high demand and short supply then people become obsessed with getting it, whatever “it” is…but the “it” is no longer knowledge. Job security be damned, it’s gone in many knowledge industries. So, what’s the next scarcity? What do we call the new Economy?

The Purpose Economy, according to some economists. What is scarce now is meaning and purpose. Jobs are being redesigned to give people more of both. Boring, mundane, predictable jobs will continue to be outsourced. Many jobs organized around math and science will be done in cheaper labor markets.

Professionals and other educated workers here in North America may need to push from the inside out, to pressure employers, especially large institutional employers of big government and big business, to invest in a Purpose Economy. Social entrepreneurs, like Sal Khan—a former hedge fund manager who founded Khan Academy to provide a free world-class education to anyone anywhere–are at the leading edge of this new economy.

As individuals, they are carrying much of the burden to re-engineer their work accordingly. In order to understand how to re-craft your job for more purpose, you need to understand what motivates you intrinsically, where you learned and acquired skills intersect with your natural strengths, deeper values, higher aspirations—and how to leverage these key success factors into work that benefits not only you but your employer and the wider Purpose Economy.

A new economy is rising, and it will offer security to workers who can leverage meaning and purpose into their work.

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.