Re-positioning your Talents for a Better Jobfit
John Morris had become pretty disillusioned with teaching at the University level. After five years his contract was up and institutions were finding ways not to give professors tenure.
The idea of being an itinerant university instructor working at minimum wage in order to stay in the game had no appeal for him.
John said what he found enjoyable and fulfilling was knowing something really well and having the opportunity to teach it.
However, too much teaching is not enjoyable, he offered, when one does not know the material intimately. In fact, being on stage is quite draining. “I like to have a depth beyond what I am working at or lecturing on, so that I can answer questions.”
He decided that it was time to re-invent himself. He had seen my book “JobJoy” and decided he wanted to work with me in person.
When we discussed successful experiences for him in the past, I discovered he had a keen talent for initiating projects and shepherding, or guiding, those projects through different decision-making levels. He was very strong on improvising and maximizing results.
It also became apparent that he enjoyed, and was very good at “schmoozing” to gain support for things he embarked on. He was always getting elected to student council or something. He loved campaigning in high school. He loved giving speeches.
The lesson here is that he had strong persuasive skills which rewarded him in academia and could also reward him in sales.
He was elected school treasurer at age 15. His opponent was a very bright woman a couple of years his senior who was actually qualified for the job, but disliked by many for her prissiness. In a political speech to students he realized that dealing with issues was unimportant and that connecting with people was of the essence.
He said his opponent gave a solid but uninspired speech. John took a different tack. He didn’t address the issue. Instead, he created a humorous scenario that suggested the former treasurer had absconded with funds. He had the whole school laughing repeatedly. John won the election by a landslide.
He is particularly persuasive. He has a strong communications talent – a good thing to have if you’re a professor, but it’s also good in business.
He had some early experience in the business environment and enjoyed that. He had always “hankered” to test his abilities in the marketplace.
He secured a position selling very technical software that gave him an opportunity to use his persuasive skills and his Ph.D. He said it was fun, but he didn’t care for the company. So he came back and we took another look at his talents and passions.
This time we re-applied his skills in a different direction. He is now a compliance analyst for Environment Canada.
His job is to analyze data brought to him by the agency’s enforcement officers, and then scrutinize the information to see how well the companies meet the requirements of 40 very specific regulations. Then, he determines if the regulations are being adhered to or violated, and which facilities should be inspected.
He’s recently been involved in changing the agency’s approach. In the past, they measured success by “output” – the number of inspections, investigations, warning letters or prosecutions handled.
Now he is involved in changing their emphasis to “outcome” – how effective they are at really improving the environment by doing things like reducing industrial discharge.
Academia was a little “airy-fairy” for John. In sales he can see his results quantified at the end of each day. In academia he couldn’t.
In his new job he does everything his profile indicates he enjoys. He uses his intellectual abilities to analyze data. He interprets the information using 40 regulations he has learned “intimately” and really understands. He uses his persuasive talents to motivate people to do more for the environment without having to “strong-arm” them. In addition, he has a superior way for his agency to measure its effectiveness.
John has taken the same skills that made him a good professor and salesman and now uses them for a completely different job – enforcing environmental regulations.