Friday, 20 April 2012

Job hopper or career strategist.

Job hopper or career strategist.
When I coach people, particularly those who have been made redundant I find that attitudes towards finding a new job vary enormously, from the  ‘I’ll do anything that pays the bills’ to ‘I am not prepared to take a step down in status or less money’. Some want to get even further up the promotion ladder. Some may need the money but their desire for status stops them considering anything less than their former role. So some are hopping from job to job and some are planning what they do.
Is there a right or wrong approach?
As a coach I don’t judge.. people need to do what is right for them, I am not in their shoes or living their life so who am I to judge their needs and or wishes. What I do is try to help them unpick what is driving those desires and whether they are genuine motivations or constructs that they have adopted because they think that they ought to feel that way.
Fundamentally there are lots of trade offs in finding in a new job: some people realise through coaching that actually they would be happier in a more local job that paid less than their old one but which allowed them to get home to read a story to the kids at bedtime. Can you put a price on that? Others are driven by such a genuine desire  to make a real contribution to improving the lives of others that they are striving for maximum influence across  maximum area.
In the post WW2 years Edgar Schien analysed what motivated people at work – I find his research interesting as it was done on US servicemen.. note the ‘men’.. he did not find that there was a group of people who go to work for social reasons. Schien said that people were motivated by the desire to:
·         Exercise Technical/Functional expertise, to be seen and respected as an expert
·         Be a General Manager– to run an organisation,  to synthesise the efforts of others
·         Have Autonomy/Independence – to do their own thing and not have to answer to others
·         Have Security/Stability – to have routine and predictability in life
·         Exercise Entrepreneurial Creativity – to create something which will enable them to leave their mark
·         Provide Service/Dedication to a Cause – to do good for others and improve their lot
·         Enjoy Pure Challenge- to do anything that is new and exciting and demanding- and I mean just keep doing new stuff!
·         Enjoy Lifestyle- to have a job where the ability to balance life and work, to come home with energy not exhaustion.

These are not exclusive, people will be driven by two or maybe three. One woman I was coaching was very clearly motivated by the need to exercise her technical knowledge, we spent about 4 months of procrastinating as she tried to motivate herself to apply for jobs back in her former profession. Was just not happening. She is now working part time as a lecturer and loving it!
Another coachee started off talking about status and money and realised that actually he could do more good (Service) by being a service manager and that he could do with less money than he thought for that sort of job.
More recently Chiumento  have come up with new research, done largely in the private sector: they did not identify altruism as a driver!  Yet I find many of my clients are driven by that very desire. Chiumento suggest that people are either:
·         Socialisers – working for the pleasure of the social interaction and that good colleagues is a key satisfier.
·         Protectionists – who place more importance on job security and a stable environment, routine and regularity.
·         Achievers who thrive on challenge and variety.
·         True Believers who have faith in what the organisation does and delivers and gain their satisfaction from being part of that enterprise (I think public sector altruism could fit here)
·         Materialists who seek material gain and reward.

So what is the difference between a job hopper and a career strategist?
It is not in what they do but in how they understand what it is they want work to do for them, how they come to understand what work plays in their life and choose their options in line with that understanding. They make deliberate choices about which jobs they will apply for or accept because they understand what they are doing. They understand what they want their lives to be about and what role will play in that. 
I have a questionnaire based on Schien to help you work out what is driving your career; please get in touch or read my book for more thought provoking and educative tips.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Interview questions that spell danger.....

Interview questions that spell danger.....
When you apply for a job you fill out a form or maybe prepare a CV, you do a covering letter  or sometimes a longer ‘supporting statement’. You send it off and if you’ve been persuasive enough on paper you get to an interview. So you set off in best suit and shiny shoes and someone; maybe an employer or maybe a recruitment consultant sits you down and says:
So give me a quick trot through your career... or tell me about your career, or give us an overview of your career, what have your career highs and lows been.
And this is a dangerous question because your answer can say more about you than you realise.
Now the sharp and alert candidate may just be tempted to say ‘you’ve got my Cv, need i say more?’ But interviews are very disempowering to  individuals (all the power seems to be on that other side of the desk) and I’ve rarely come across someone who responded in that fashion.
But why do the interviewers ask that? May be they have not read the paperwork. It does happen that the person who screens the applications is different from the one that is interviewing.  I did once go to see a recruitment agency/consultancy and discovered that actually they had not read the Cv properly and seemed to have started reading at page 2 and thought I was working in a job I’d left 10 years before!  So help them out with a prĂ©cis.
The way you answer can, just as your CV and letter does, reveal a lot about you that you may not have intended to reveal. My heart always sinks when a candidate starts with job number one and then takes me through their life history brick by brick. Dry, tedious and full of information that i already have infront of me. (and I do read the paperwork) It often takes forever. So top tip number one, clarify with the interviewer if you can, is this a bio-data interview or a warm up question.  And the best way to do this maybe to ask ‘where would you like me to start?’ If they say at the beginning it is more likely to be  the former and then they will be looking for a detailed analysis of what you did where, what you achieved and why you changed jobs. If it is a bio-data interview the interviewer should be probing and prompting, giving you a steer about the sort of detail they want.  If the latter they will be listening to what you select to mention and include.
So what can emerge from ‘the trot through the career ? patterns about why you moved on;
·         repeatedly being made redundant  (smokescreen for sacked?),
·         deciding to leave because of differences of policy, (awkward customer does not get on with people?),
·         looking for ‘new challenges’ when the moves have been between similar jobs (low boredom threshold?)
·         moving around very quickly for more money (no loyalty)
·         staying a long time in jobs (lacks appetite and drive)
There are numerous permutations and not all of those are negative indications. A thirst for variety is no bad thing in a job that offers considerable variety or an organisation that does not expect people to stay long.
But you also reveal how you look at the world. If you take a linear approach and describe  each job etc you are suggesting that that is your approach to life. It’s linear, it’s detailed, it’s prosaic. If you give chapter and verse on every employment when not specifically asked for it, you really do risk boring the interviewer to death!
So if you are grey hair/no hair, going for a senior role and someone asks that question, what is it that they really want to know?
Well they may be trying to understand your career drivers or motivators, what is it that makes you tick ? are you the sort of person they want on board? Do your motivators align with their values.
They may be looking to see if you can helicopter and identify themes and patterns. Well of course you can and you can ensure that they are the ones you want them to hear about!
If they are looking for someone with strategic thinking ability, give them a strategic answer.
Most interviewers have read your cv and don’t want to hear it all again they want to hear more and different so think about what you want them to hear.
The danger is that you take the interviewer too literally and ‘trot’ them through your career until all they want to do is put you out to grass. Take a thematic approach and you can be enthusiastic and energetic, succinct and enlightening whilst retaining their interest. If they want to probe they can do so but please, what ever you do: be interesting!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The UK is loving Linked -In

As if you had not realised; the UK has embraced Linked in in a very big way. London is the busiest place on earth for Linked In. But the most astonishing stat is towards th end of the article.. who knew there were so many???
Jorgen Sundberg writes:
  • 150 million worldwide members of LinkedIn
  • 8 million UK members
  • Almost two thirds of all professionals in Britain are on LinkedIn
  • Almost a third of members use LinkedIn to grow their business
  • 64% year on year membership growth
  • 82% use LinkedIn for business purposes
  • 74% use LinkedIn to network with other professionals
  • 30% use LinkedIn to look for a new job
Conclusion: Brits have taken to LinkedIn in a very big way. Unlike France (Viadeo) and Germany (Xing), this country never really had a professional network contender to LinkedIn and it's showing in the figures.
I hear on the grapevine that it's actually closer to 9 million UK users of LinkedIn, most of them are based in London. In fact, London is the no.1 city on LinkedIn in terms of user activity. That means the royal capital has more logins, clicks, comments etc than any other place in the world (including Menlo Park, CA where LinkedIn are based).
Two thirds of all professionals on LinkedIn is very good going, looks like we're almost on par with the Dutch who have the highest rate of LinkedIn users per professional capita.
It's no surprise that most users use LinkedIn for business purposes; to grow their companies and network with professionals. If you want to use social networks for that very purpose, LinkedIn is definitely your best bet.
Finally, 30% use LinkedIn to look for a new job. That figure might seem low to you but I believe they mean these people are currently looking for a job. Yes, most folks will use the professional network for job search at some time or another but at any given time about a third are looking for a new opportunity.
The rest of us are known as 'passive' candidates - meaning we're probably open to hearing what jobs are going but will only move for a spectacular opportunity.
LinkedIn is in my book moving away from being about careers and more about giving you a professional identity online. It's going mainstream and becoming an essential for most people that work in an office. Having said that, remember that there are about 110,000 recruiters on LinkedIn in the UK so there will be plenty of jobs coming your way in future via LinkedIn.