Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gian's 10 Career Development Rules

career development differs from career planning. I know because I taught a course in career planning which revealed to me that very few people actually plan their careers. Those who do often modify them  at some point. This makes career development more significant. 

Careers begin with work - any kind of work. How we navigate and leverage these work experiences is called career development. Those who excel in it are armed with self-knowledge, strategy, and drive

When we consciously take control of our career development, we connect the dots that create a more vibrant picture of fulfillment; one that looks the way we intended. My career development rules below, consisting of previous Growth Tree postings, have proven highly effective in helping former students and clients connect these dots.

Recognize Likeability As An Ability

We prefer to do business and spend time with those we like. Because work is what consumes the majority of our time, your likeability factor can be an asset or a liability in your career development and advancement.

Very few people are aware of how likeable or unlikeable they are. Psychology teaches us that we all hold positive illusions about ourselves, which make it difficult to gauge how others see us, much less how likeable they find us to be.

Personality factors aside, there are qualities that characterize the likeable person that can be cultivated such as genuineness, empathy, maturity, positivity, and a sense of humor. It's not just enough to possess these qualities, they must be displayed with consistency. After all, it would be freaky to see these traits in someone during one encounter, and notice their absence subsequently, right?

Some say if you have to cultivate these qualities your likeability is not natural; hinting that one would be acting fake or would be a fake.

That's not true.

Likeability is like talent; we are all born with varying degrees of it, and what we lack has to be developed. It's up to us to recognize likeabiity as an ability that allows us to be firmly embraced by those who value us as professionals, and enjoy us as people.

Do What Your Company Values -
Not Just What Your Were Hired To Do

Whether you are interviewing for a new position, or trying to excel in one that you already have, it's no guarantee that your ability to do your job well can help you keep your job. If you want to excel in terms of accomplishment and advancement you have to do more.

The reality is that if you are qualified to do your job, the unexpressed expectation is that you will do it well. What's not expressed (even in most job interviews) is what you're expected to do beyond your job duties; the things the company truly values in their employees. 

For example, it may be initiative in creating business development strategies, assisting new hires with the acclimation process, conjuring up ideas to improve operations or company culture, or taking on projects that need to be done, or have been avoided.

While these examples may spark ideas, the activities that you instigate should reflect what your company values. Solving or preventing problems is valued in most organizations. Identifying those problems, and the activities to remedy them is a career development rule observed by those who advance their careers.


Position Yourself To Get Shortlisted

short list is a list of candidates for final consideration.

Your career development depends on someone or some business entity placing you on this list as a result of the confidence they have in your expertise, talents, potential, or services. To be short-listed is to be identified as one of the best qualified to get the job done, whatever it may be. 

Getting chosen to be short-listed is not a conscious or deliberate choice for most because they don't view themselves as a brand (a unique entity with distinguished strengths, qualities, and characteristics that represent something), and if you don't view yourself as a brand it means that you are not aware of what makes you different, and therefore better than your competitors.

Positioning is nothing more than the act of managing perception; how one is favorably perceived in the minds of others in comparison to those who they are competing with.  

How do you position yourself? By doing something that draws attention to your brand (an accomplishment, activity, award, etc.).

Branding distinguishes you by highlighting your unique qualities. Positioning markets those qualities to others. Brands are constructed. Positioning is achieved. They work hand-in-hand. Conversations about branding one's self without any mention of positioning are incomplete, if not futile.

Employ positioning strategies to place you on someone's shortlist.

Create Your Own Luck Through The Use Of Social Capital

I could have easily made this Career Development Rule #1 considering how strongly I believe in the power of relationships, but in order to properly leverage relationships it takes skills that many don't have, or need to develop.

These relationships comprise what's called social capital, the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. 

Networks consist of strong ties and weak ties, and both are important. It's through the building and nurturing of one's networks that career, work, educational, and collaboration opportunities are bred. The key to leveraging the wealth of one's network, by the definition of social capital, is to be a participating contributor to the community in which one belongs by playing a role that one is best suited for, to help it grow. This is called a participation strategy.

We all have something of value to offer our respective communities, and those who belong to it. Providing resources that you have, to build equity within the community, in order to cash in on it later is essential. Whether it be time, money, skills, or knowledge, it engenders goodwill and reciprocity - the very things that will create luck for you in the form of career opportunities down the road.

Apply For The Job You Think You Have No Chance Of Getting

The person that doesn't take a chance, doesn't have a chance.

When it comes to jobs and careers, that especially holds true. The goal should never be to get a job, but the right job. To be clear, the right job is the job that combines what you do with who you are. The job that calls upon your superpowers

The job you may not be qualified for.

We tend to view our professional selves in terms of our qualifications. The problem is that our qualifications are limited, which means that we carry a limited view of our abilities and the roles that we can play. When a job comes along that most people feel is "out of reach" for them, they simply don't apply. 

They are afraid to take a chance.

Someone with better qualifications may get the job, but you may be better for the job. There's a difference. People are not human resumes. By (courageously) applying for the job that you think you have no chance of getting, you do run the risk of rejection, but you also (potentially) win the opportunity to present your case as to why you are the best person for the job, even though you may not be the best qualified on paper.

Choose To Work For A Leader, Not A Boss

When seeking employment most people focus on good pay and benefits. Those are important. Equally as important is the person for whom you will be working. This individual, commonly or mistakenly referred to as one's "boss," will inevitably play a crucial role in your career development, or the lack thereof.

Because management of anything implies control of it, those who manage others have to be concerned, to some extent, with controlling them to get the results they are responsible for. Too often their fear of not getting those results drive them to become overbearing and engage in micromanaging due to lack of trust.

To a boss, the work of the company gets done through them.

Leaders who are not concerned with being someone's boss are committed to getting the same results, but they have a genuine desire to unite workers with opportunities that allow them to take advantage of their superpowers.

To a leader, the work of the company get done through the workers.

If your boss is not a leader, you will be used as an instrument. If your boss is a leader, you will be viewed, utilized, and treated as an ally. Successful career development does not happen without allies. Choosing a leader for a boss is easily one of the wisest career decisions that one can make.

Focus On The Problem You Want To Solve -
Not What You Want To Be

From the time that kids are around 5 years old they get asked what they want to be when they grow up. Their response is based on non-existent or extremely limited knowledge of their vocational options, and is often unconsciously chosen to impress or ingratiate themselves with the person asking the question.

Flash forward twenty years later and the same child, now a young adult and an imminent college grad, has a different response that sounds more coherent, concise, and even more convincing. The problem is the response is still unconsciously chosen to impress.

The question of what do you want to be when you grow up is deeply flawed in both philosophy and science. It first assumes that one will in fact grow up (what happens through maturation) as opposed to merely growing older (what happens naturally). 

Because the prefromtal cortex (which controls executive functions of the brain such as reasoning and planning) doesn't fully mature (at the earliest) until age 25, most career decisions made by those under 25 are not likely to be long-term. This is why I've always contended that learning who you are is the most important assignment for those under 25. Discovering what you want is a close second, but miswanting leads many astray when career planning.

For this reason, the problems that you can identify and solve for clients (if you want to be an entrepreneur), a particular industry, your own company (or a company you would like to work for), an aspect of some business, or life in general, is what college grads or those actively developing their careers should prioritize. 

What you want to be is stagnant; solving problems is fluid.

This career development rule allows you to move from one position or role to the next in the context that best utilizes your superpowers for the causes that capture your interests and passions. Solving problems can also provide you with a purpose - especially when that purpose is tied to your mission

From this point forward, focus on the problem you want to solve - not what you want be - and you will evolve into the most valuable version of who you were meant to become.

Always Look For A New Job While Employed

Looking for a job is not easy. In fact, the very idea of taking the time and putting forth the effort to find a new job - while you are working - can be demotivating. After all, you are comfortable in your job that provides you with some security and a steady stream of income that allows you to pay your bills.

But you don't like your job.

You don't hate it, but you definitely don't like it. As jobs go, yours is not the worst, but it certainly is not the best - for you. In your mind you feel you can do better, or perhaps deserve better. This much you are certain of. In fact, you've been certain of this for quite some time. 

My work in HR has proven 1 thing to me about job searches: The best time to look for a job is when you have one.

Candidates that I've interviewed who had a job have always given the best interviews; thus making them the best candidates, which usually resulted in job offers.

Why? The candidate who enters the job interview with nothing to lose is more comfortable, if not more confident in an interview setting. Psychologically, their mindset is different. 

Fear of rejection is an influential factor in our behaviors and responses during a job interview. Couple them with financial repercussions that stem from unemployment and the result is a stressed, disingenuous candidate who reeks of desperation.

That's not the case with the debonair candidate who interviews and has a job. While the unemployed candidate is burdened with responding to the question of why he does not have a job, the employed candidate has to only casually address the reason(s) why he wants to leave the job he has.

Yes, working candidates are viewed as more desirable (after all someone thinks enough of them to give them a job). This should be used as leverage to get the job you really want, especially when your current job has become less appealing or rewarding.

Never Let Survival Interfere With Your Pursuit Of Success

We all have bills to pay. The question for those developing their careers is this: If you didn't have bills to pay (and could pay them by some other means) would you still do what you are currently doing for a living?

A career empowers you to make a living (i.e., engage in an activity that makes living worthwhile). Jobs are associated with survival. They are transactional (I do something which I do not enjoy in exchange for something I need to survive). Careers are associated with success. They are about achievement (I take pride in my work and the way I feel based upon my contributions and accomplishments).

When we are in survival mode, we become risk aversive, both in thoughts and in actions.

One of many success factors is the amount and frequency of risks taken. The survival mode mentality keeps many people stuck in jobs for years; effectively thwarting necessary pursuits which can lead to success (e.g., a new position within the same company, a new role within a different company, or starting your own business.).

It also makes you clingy and creates a situation in which the only daily success you have will be enduring the monotony of your job; instead of making a living through the copious benefits and rewards that only a fulfilling career can offer.

This success, and the work that is required to achieve it, makes significance (what we ultimately aspire to) more attainable.

Below, Pastor Rick Warren provides the best recorded distinctions between surviving, succeeding, and living with significance. 

Never Let A Good Job Prevent You From Having A Great Career

Most people hold jobs before embarking upon a career. Some will get a good job that can even lead to a career. Because jobs hold golden opportunities to advance your career, all jobs (yes, even the ones you hated) are good jobs.  

But some jobs are better jobs than others.

A really good job looks like a career, but doesn't feel like one. Good jobs satisfy most of your needs and provide you with more happiness than a normal job. In comparison to a career, however, a really good job is like a top generic designer suit; it can fit pretty good, but not as good as a tailored suit by a top designer, which feels good on you in every way. The difference is subtle, yet dramatic.

Great careers and designer suits are all about comfort and fit.

Simply put, a great career is one in which a rewarding professional activity, or combination of activities, enables you to fulfill your life vision by aligning who you are, with what you do.

The paradox here is that if you have no life vision, your good job can morph into a great career. For those who have a strong identity and a clear vision of what a great career is, alignment is key, and will prove to be the ultimate driver of their fulfillment.

Too many sharp people are sidetracked by good jobs and falsely mistake them for careers, when in fact, a good job should be viewed as mere preparation, and a logical next step toward the great career they want and deserve...but instead, they stop at 2nd base and become complacent with accomplishment or enamored by the extrinsic offerings of their positions. Sometimes they simply get worn down or burned out, and as a result, lose the energy or courage to make a run for 3rd base.

They ignore career development rule #1: Never let a good job prevent you from having a great career. It obstructs them from turning the corner to discover that home base was not only closer than they imagined, but also holds greater rewards than the really good job could ever provide.  Those who do will be wearing a suit that fits "pretty good," versus one that fits perfectly, longer than they have to.