A Career Season
How is that New Year's resolution coming along to pursue a new job or even a different career path? Here are a few thoughts, along with some tips.
A Happy New Year to all! My wish for each of you is that 2018 will be as my friend and former co-worker, Leonard McDonald would say, “pleasant and productive.”
As we switch calendars we tend to consider new commitments and resolutions. I need to make a decision about that relationship… I’m going to be a better spouse or father… It’s time to get back to church… I could drop a few pounds…
For some of my clients it’s:
• My job lacks purpose, or
• I’m not connecting well with my colleagues, or
• There is no career path, or
• I don’t know if this is really what I’m supposed to do, or
• I just need a job…any job!
Do the math. Many of us will enter the full-time, 40 hour or more a week workforce at around age 20 or our early 20’s. If we’re “fortunate” we’ll have the opportunity to be fully employed until we’re 60-65-70, maybe. For arguments sake let’s say 45 years of our lives will be devoted to some vocational pursuit. In addition to the 40 hours we spend at work is the time prepping for our jobs: hygienic activities, commuting, etc. Then there’s the homework, “call outs,” and training. Estimate that out of a 168 hour week, easily a third, or 56 of them are spent in some occupational dimension.
45 years x 1/3 = 15 years
Given an average lifespan of 78 years, that’s nearly 20% of our total time on earth spent working. What a tragedy if that time’s not engaging.
Some further statistics from workplace studies last year:
• 64% of American workers think their workplace has a negative effect on their well-being. (Thomson’s Online Benefits)
• 85% of employees said they felt overwhelmed, extremely down, or experienced negative feelings that interfered with their ability to work. (TAO Connect)
• 42% of employees believe their accomplishments go unnoticed. (OC Tanner)
• 44% of workers believe they are always or often overlooked. (Mental Health America)
Do you fall into one of these statistical categories? Is your current state unfulfilling? What are you resolving to do about it? And when?
I cannot proclaim to have a panacea for every career seeker. What I can offer are some tips that have either worked for me or proved beneficial to others I have known along the way. Some are pretty fundamental, others unusual, a few downright zany. Pick what might work for you.
1. Get off your butt! Forgive my curtness: it does little good to bemoan your present job circumstances as you reiterate your misery. You have certain skills and abilities that are unique to you and no one else. What are they? How might they be of benefit? What kind of industry could use someone of your ilk?
2. Consult books and resources. For almost 50 years now “What Color is Your Parachute?” has been one of the most highly regarded career advice books in print. Seek the counsel of others you respect. There are few greater honors you can bestow upon someone else than calling upon their wisdom. Who knows, perhaps they have a connection that leads to…
3. …Networking. Who works in an industry that interests you? A friend of a friend’s mother perhaps? Is there an association for that field? As I also work in the sports industry I am a member of the Football Writers of America Association. I belong to the International Coaching Federation and the Society for Human Resources Management. An interest group exists for just about everything!
4. Be bold. The worst someone can say to you is “no.” My first job out of college was secured in a city where I knew no one by putting on a shirt and tie and walking door-to-door in an industrial area until I came upon an employment office who called a line manager. I favorably impressed him and he was inclined to create a job for me.
5. Stand out. There are thousands of resumes out there. What makes yours stand out? Maybe it’s on blue paper or the school colors of the hiring manager. Or it’s an eight page professionally done portfolio that describes the essence of your accomplishments (I’ve actually seen one like that). I even had a cycling buddy who found a job posting in a small Iowa town years ago while on a ride, had his wife fax in a resume, eventually ended up getting the job, moved there for seven years, and had his family recognized by the Governor among new young families moving to the state.
6. What’s your story? A hiring decision will be made likely within the first five minutes of the interview. Again, what differentiates you from all the other job candidates when you are asked to “tell me a little bit about yourself?” Also be prepared to speak to “areas you need to improve on and what you are doing to improve them.” Most people surprisingly will admit to having no weaknesses.
7. Say thank you. If you’re fortunate enough to get an interview, say thank you afterwards. Verbally. In writing. And preferably with a handwritten thank you note. Almost no one does that anymore. That’s why it’s so powerful!
We are already several days into a new year. The holidays are behind us, most of the decorations are put back up and we’re in the process of getting re-centered. Enjoy the journey ahead of you in 2018. Renew acquaintances and make new friends. Take new roads. Commit to being an even better version of you. Shine a light before others. Love well.
The Seed Sower