Career Conundrum

When billionaire Mike Bloomberg spoke to the recent graduates of Harvard Business School about their careers, he told them, “Make decisions based on the quality of the opportunity and where you’ll have the most fun and the most room for growth.”  His message to them was rooted in understanding themselves.  It’s a lot like the message Erika Boissiere wrote about in her April 22, 2019 Forbes magazine article, “When You’ve Made the Wrong Career Choice”.  She says, “You can’t shelve unhappiness forever.”

Identifying the Career Conundrum:

Rarely does a week go by that I do not get a phone call, email, or run into someone who is experiencing disappointment in their career choice.  They are in a Career Conundrum, with the nagging questions of:

  • Do I stay or do I go?
  • What else can I do?
  • How do I know I won’t feel this same way 5 years from now?

So, is she right?  Does unhappiness keep you awake at night, distract you while you work and drive, gnaw at your stomach, and diminish your performance?  That feeling of being stuck is a miserable place to live.

People who love their work are highly motivated.  But I believe that everyone has the potential to be highly motivated.  Finding the “right fit” career is key.  In fact motivation is one of the five key pillars of Emotional Intelligence and key to career success.

Counter the Career Conundrum:

Are you ready for a successful process? Contact me about taking The Highlands Ability Battery and creating a new path!  Finding the “right fit” career is a process and requires an investment in self.  Investing is the act of putting something in, like time, money, effort.  We invest in our 401k and we expect an improved outcome.  Why would anyone invest endless hours at a job that doesn’t feel right when there are so many other options?

Networking is for Everyone – Including Students!

Social media is changing the way we network for career opportunities.  But we can’t forget to develop our in-person networks as well.  This is especially true for high school and college students.  As you think about career directions, this is the time to do some explorations and especially if you are not working during the summer.

Tap into those networks that are closest to you.  Parents and their employers, extended family members and their employers are all great places to begin.  Find out if positions exist within their organizations that you may interest you.  If so, a quick phone call or introduction followed by a couple of questions could well set the stage for an opportunity to spend a few hours or even a week exploring the career options related to the career you shadowed.  By shadowing, you have also extended your own network for future opportunities.  Career shadowing experiences help you to determine if there is more you want to know about a career or if it was just a whim.

In years past we only heard about networking as a business tool.  No longer!  It is a tool for everyone and students are no exception.  Whether you are building a network of coaches, admissions contacts or career professionals, networking is powerful.  While Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp are all proven social media networking tools, don’t overlook the obvious.  Check out your own family network and the network of businesses and professionals used by your family.  It’s all part of promoting yourself, building experiences, eliminating the potential of stumbling into a profession you later wish you had gone another direction, and creating a path of satisfaction and success for yourself.

Contact me if you need more information or have questions.  Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!

Career Trend Shifts

I talk often about the importance of paying attention to the trends.   Over the last decade we have experienced huge changes in trends of all kinds, not just the obvious of the day, “What’s trending on Twitter.”  I’m talking trends in careers and how that impacts new majors at universities, degrees and technical program certifications.

When television programs like Law and Order, CSI and a host of other crime shows hit it big, universities responded to the increased interest and demand by offering more programs in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice. When the market collapsed and millions of people went back to school, what new major was hot on the scene, Entrepreneurship!  People needed to reinvent themselves and find new opportunities.  While it hasn’t been for everyone, it does feed a niche market.

So what’s hot in Business schools now? Analytics!  Yep, the study of business data and there is lots of it!  Click here for an article in The Wall Street Journal, “Big Data Gets Master Treatment at B-Schools”. 

Paying attention to the trends allows you to make informed decisions.  After all, when you choose a college or a major you are making decisions that impact your earning potential, potential satisfaction and quality of life.  Doing your homework can pay big dividends in ways far greater than a paycheck!  It may be a great new trend, but is it right for you?

Got a question about what else is trending in career fields and what is the best fit for you?  Contact me.

Finding Job Satisfaction

Have you ever felt you were going down the wrong path, maybe weren’t sure where the path was to start with, or maybe you got to the end of the path and said, “Is that all there is?” Life is way too short to not enjoy what you do in your chosen career.  It scares me when I read articles or research that reflect numbers of 50-65% of the population reporting they are disappointed in their career choice or feel that their work is not utilizing their talents.

Finding jobs over the last several years has posed a challenge, but jobs are out there and they run the gambit of requiring technical school training, certification programs, college or advanced degrees. There truly is something for everyone, but not everyone does their homework to figure out their best path.

Finding job satisfaction requires a bit of work. You have to pay attention to what you like and don’t like to do both in your class time or work hours as well as in those hours when you can spend your time doing anything you want. What makes you tick?  What turns you off?  Are you passionate about something and want to incorporate it in your work or do you want to keep it separate?  What are your Natural Abilities?  Did you know they are measureable?

Job satisfaction includes doing what you are good at, being valued by those you work with and for.  It includes doing what you enjoy and feeling that compensation is in line with the job and others in similar jobs.  Satisfaction includes lots of things including your quality of life.  Does your job satisfaction measure up?

Need help figuring it out? Click here to Contact Me.

Considerations for Choosing or Reevaluating a College Major

1 – Family Influence – Parents and family members influence our considerations for college, advanced degrees and career outcomes.  Their involvement and discussions may or may not support specific areas of study the student finds of interest.  The work done by parents or extended family members may set an expectation for the college student and therefore the selection of a college major is predetermined by family dynamics.   Knowing where family influence comes from can support an open range of major areas of study or it can create an expectation that may or may not fit.

2 – Media Impact – Television programs like CSI, The Closer, have created increased demand for degrees in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science.  However, enjoying a television program doesn’t make it a good career fit.  Understanding the requirements of the courses and the potential career opportunities that are related to these courses can help in determining a good fit and major area of study.

3 – Values – Knowing yourself and what you value is an important factor in choosing a major area of study.  Whether it is time management, making a difference for others, religion, recognition, physical challenges or spending time with family or friends, these and many others are key factors in considering career directions and major areas of study.

4 – Interests – Interest surveys are great tools for beginning a process of determining career direction and major areas of study.  Because interests can change due to our experiences, it is good to take them periodically.  While interests may shift, you may also find a trend develops with one or two.

5 – Natural Abilities – Natural Abilities are the way in which we are hardwired.  Like our fingerprints, they are part of who we are and they do not change.  They appear as the things we do naturally and easily.  They impact the way we learn, interact with others, the environment we feel most comfortable at work.  Natural abilities are driving forces within each of us and can be capitalized on for maximum performance and satisfaction or we can work against them and question why we are not as happy in our chosen careers.  Natural Abilities are measureable so ask me how to get it done!

6 – Goals – Having clearly defined goals can help in choosing college majors.  Do your goals require 4 years or 8 years of school?  Do you have a financial plan to support those goals?  Will the outcome of your major area of study provide career opportunities based on labor trends, where you choose to live and your social or cultural expectations?  Clearly defined goals along with a financial plan will assist in meeting the challenges of completing an “on time” degree as well as reduce potential costs associated with changing majors and prolonged graduation dates.   Talk with your financial planner to assess your own college and fiscal needs.  I can help with the college and career pieces.

Owning Your Future

As a teenager, we all dream about the moment we take ownership of our first vehicle.  We spend hours calculating how we can make it happen; the jobs we’ll do, counting the change or dollars, making those deposits and monitoring the savings account until the day we finally make that first purchase.  Making that purchase brings a sense of pride, confidence and Ownership.

There are countless reports in the news and articles in papers or on the web addressing the skyrocketing costs of higher education.  But what is not being addressed is the fact that you can avoid some of the pitfalls by taking Ownership early.  If the National average is to change majors 3-5 times, and changing majors equals increased numbers of semesters and dollars spent, then it seems reasonable that having a more defined idea about one’s future career endeavors would increase the probability of an on-time graduation and diminished need for additional education expenses.  Taking Ownership means you take action.

The Highlands Ability Battery is a wonderful tool to help chart a course, to take action.  Did you know that by the time you are approximately 14 years old, your Natural Abilities are defined and measurable?  Imagine if you knew what they are, how they match with identified professions and combined that with a methodology to assist in learning about those professions so that you are prepared to choose a major.   You take Ownership – you take action.  That way, when you go to college you don’t waste semesters, exceed your budget, and you graduate with a meaningful degree in something you enjoy and it’s marketable.

Own your future.  Ownership is powerful!

Redirecting Your Work Life

While much of the time I target high school and college students, this post is for anyone in college, the work force, or considering going back to work.  Frequently over the last couple of years I have addressed Professional Development as it applies to high school and college students.  But to the career professional or the “stay-at-home parent” getting ready to re-enter the work force, this broad term also applies.  Generally speaking, there are sectors of the work world that refer to continuing your education or training for licensing as Professional Development or Continuing Education Units (CEU).

  • Physicians and Nurses
  • Attorneys
  • Massage Therapists
  • Teachers and Administrators
  • Realtors and CPA’s

This list is certainly not complete, but you get the idea.  Some professions require within a determined number of years, that you participate in classes or conferences in an effort to keep current in your field.  Some industries pay for their employees to attend these conferences or courses while others leave it up to the individual.  The important point here is WHY would you leave it up to someone else?

In a shaky economic market it makes it more challenging for individuals to pay for such training, but it pays dividends if you do.  Firms, companies and organizations have scaled back their resources to cover the costs associated with on-going training for employees, but the value of investing in you is enormous!  It not only increases your own intellectual value, but it elevates the employer’s perception of you as an individual and your willingness to increase your own potential.

In an interesting twist from a decade ago, there are now new programs geared to those who are out of work and seeking new directions and opportunities or those who need a brief course to get licensed and into a new profession that requires less preparation time and resources often required by four-year or advanced degrees.

Want to know how to increase your value to an organization or get redirected?  Contact me.

Excellent Perspective

The Wall Street Journal ran an article about a year ago and they addressed the issue of financing college.  They have run many articles since, but this one was so impressive because they included professionals outside the realm of education or higher education who addressed areas of concern beyond their own “known career” of investment services. In five perspectives of advice to parents from five financial advisors, the first recommendation was, “Encourage your child to select a career first, and then a school.”  One of the advisors interviewed, Greg Gilbert, a financial advisor based in Atlanta, went on to make a statement so similar to what I have blogged about several times over the last couple of years when I encouraged students to seek out internships and volunteer opportunities.  He said, “The key is not just saying ‘Oh, I want to do this,’ but instead, really actively vetting out the [career] idea to see if it’s the right choice.”

Funding a college degree is an enormous commitment.  It can become bigger than expected if it is not managed effectively.  Investing in a career professional may mean spending a little up-front, but it will be a fraction compared to the extended tuition payments made when a four year bachelor degree becomes a 6 year bachelor degree  as a result of a student trying to “find himself” in the process.  Even students who believe they know the direction they want to take can be blindsided when the courses or internships turn out to be vastly different than they expected.

The business of running colleges and universities is big business.  Part of that business is your tuition dollars.  You can choose to make it a four year plan or an extended plan.  So, before you choose that college, make sure you have a career plan and that the college you choose will provide the biggest bang for your buck!  Your action “up front” can reduce extended costs and perhaps your own student loan debt.

Click here to read full article.

Click here to contact me for more information on career paths, colleges or college majors.

 

Your Natural Abilities – Part I

“Most people think they know what they are good at.  They are usually wrong…And yet, a person can perform only from strength.” – Peter Drucker (1909-2005) Business guru

Through a well-documented process and years of research, it is possible to measure Natural Abilities like measuring intelligence.  However, unlike an IQ score that defines a level of intelligence, measures of Natural Abilities can assist in defining career paths that would lend themselves to an individual’s most satisfying outcome based on strengths and compatibilities of varied abilities.  Understanding your abilities can mean the difference between loving what you do in your chosen career path, and wondering why you ever chose that path.  It can also mean the difference between a 4 year degree that takes 6 years or an “on-time” graduation.

When abilities are measured we can learn more about the environment that would be most satisfying for work, the type of problem solver an individual is and the occupations that lend themselves well in that capacity.  We also uncover the type of learning channels that allow us to take in information most effectively and how to capitalize on that knowledge.  Finally, we learn our most effective communication style and the career paths that fit most comfortably and provide for maximum productivity and performance.

While no single assessment should ever be used to definitively tell you what to do in your life’s endeavors, there are key indicators that can make the journey a lot more fun, effective and satisfying.  Trying to decide on a college major or define what direction to take next? Want to have your abilities measured?  Contact me.

4 Considerations to Evaluate Summer Needs

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”  – Mark Twain

Whether you are a high school student or a college student, you are on a path that can provide enormous opportunity and create background experiences that set you up for success.  So, as part of the plan, begin by evaluating your needs.

As a student, there are 4 Needs to consider when planning your summer.  Keep in mind, your plan may include parallel paths to meet these Needs.

1 – Financial Need – Do you need to make money for spending cash or are you in need of making money to be able to make expenses when you return to school?  Do you need to make money to pay for college?  If “financial need” is a primary concern for your summer, then getting started on your pursuit of summer employment is an immediate need given the competition that will be out there.

2 – Experience Need – Experience presents itself in many forms.  It can be an internship, externship, or participation with an organization.  Internships may be with or without pay, but the big payoff is experience with a company that can build toward future employment with them or at least the benefit of learning what you do or don’t want to do in your future.  Participation with an organization may be in the form of an athletic team and building skills and stats toward college or professional opportunities.  Either way, the experience is your primary need.

3 – Volunteer Need – This one is of particular importance to high school students but should not be dismissed by the college student.  Volunteering speaks to your character.  Many high schools require community service as part of their graduation requirements.  Universities look at volunteerism as one element of consideration when admitting students.  Companies look at your community involvement as commitment, community outreach and opportunities to be seen as a positive extension of their own business.  Assess your schedule and your need to increase volunteer capacity.

4 – Education Need – Do you need to take summer courses?  Does your graduation date indicate that you are on track with completing your diploma or degree on-time?  Do you want to get ahead on your timeline?  Assessing your summer needs for education is important for maintaining an “on-time” graduation date.

Evaluate your needs and take action now!  Break it down and break away from the pack!