Job Search; You’re Doing It Wrong


Well, okay, I admit I don’t know how you personally go about finding work, but from what I see on a daily basis, the majority are going about it the wrong way.

Yes, I watch people come in to our resource centre and they either go right to the physical job board or call up a job search site online and look at an electronic job board. They visually scan the jobs there and then I see them pick one and fire off their resume. So, does that sound like you? If so, then consider yourself in the majority I referenced in the opening paragraph who may just be going about things in the wrong way.

There are 4 steps to the process of finding work; work that’s a great fit and that you’ll keep for some time at any rate. Most people who sit down and start scanning jobs to see what’s available and then immediately apply are actually only doing the 4th and final step – the application. I know this, because in addition to watching them, I go a step further and engage in conversation with them and when I do, I’m gathering information myself to determine if they’ve done any or all of the previous 3 steps and most haven’t.

So to be clear, yes I agree you can find a job by only doing the 4th step – applying. However, it’s likely that what you’ll get is a job that doesn’t last for long because the personal fit isn’t as good as you’d hope it will be. The result may indeed have you believing that a job is a job, work is work, and the idea of finding a job you’ll love is a luxury or pure luck rather than the norm. That’s rather unfortunate if this becomes your belief.

So, what the first three steps to a successful job search that ends with a satisfying conclusion? Interested in knowing? Great!

Step 1. Clarify

Know yourself well enough that you are able to quickly identify and label your strengths, values, accomplishments, preferences, skills and abilities. Don’t just assume that you can bypass this first critical step. Do you know what your work values are for example? Companies sure do; you see it on their websites all the time reflected through they mottos, mission statements and ‘about us’ pages, They clearly tell you what they believe, and believe me when I say they’ll expect you to tell them the same about yourself. They are determining the fit of the next person just as you should be determining the fit of an employer to you.

Step 2. Research

The extent to the research some job seekers do is limited to the information on the job posting they picked off a job board. Seriously? That’s it? You get what you deserve if this is all you do, and I don’t mean that in a mean way but as a statement of reality. You’ll get out of a job what you put in and if you don’t look into the people, the organization and what the environment is like that you’re considering walking into, well, don’t be surprised if it’s not what you expected.

By the way, you should only conduct research into an organization or a possible career or job after having assessed who you are and what makes you tick in step 1. If you neglect to assess yourself first, all that information you gather in your research still won’t tell you if the fit is going to be a good one or not for how you go about your day, and whether the role itself you research will bring you satisfaction.

Step 3. Decide

After clarifying your strengths, interests, accomplishments and what you want out of a future job, you did some research and looked at occupations and organizations that have a high probability of working in with great success. Good. Now the challenge is to make a decision between the choices before you. You may have 2 – 4 jobs before you; all of which will bring you a measure of happiness and in which you will contribute to the success of the organizations that may hire you. A decision is in order, so make one after some careful consideration but don’t get paralyzed putting off deciding.

Step 4. Act

Okay, now go ahead and actively apply for the jobs you want. Bolstered with knowing yourself well, knowing what you’re after and why what you’re after is the best fit, you’ll compete with greater confidence. That confidence is going to come across as an attractive quality.

Look, there’s a lot of people competing for jobs these days. Employers have the luxury of many people to choose from. Some job seekers put very little thought and effort into their applications; applying day after day and just hoping that something sticks and they get a job. Employer’s who interview and hire these people get what they deserve too.

The happiest people, the ones who have shorter unemployment, get hired quicker and stay longer, are the ones who step back, assess themselves, do their homework and apply to jobs they’ve landed on after careful consideration.

You might not agree with me though and that’s your choice. You might just accelerate to the job boards and fire off your resume to a job you just discovered 3 minutes ago and figure you can do. If this is your wish, all the best. Hope it works out.

Getting The Best Of Your Staff


There’s things we are good at, things we are great at, and there are things that we get excited and enthused about. If we’re lucky, the things we’re enthusiastic about are also things we’re great at. In the workplace, if we’re fortunate, we land in a job where our boss recognizes and appreciates the importance of these things we are great at and love doing, and finds a way to put us in a position to use these talents.

This isn’t always the case though is it? I mean there are some Supervisors who fail to appreciate the talents their employees have. You may have actually experienced someone who in their wisdom, wanted those of their team to be interchangeable, and therefore rotated their staff around, making sure everyone did a little of everything. As a consequence of this thinking, many employees on a given team tend to grumble; frustrated that what they’d like to be doing most isn’t what they do, and the people doing whatever that is are a little jealous that you’re doing what they’d love to do too.

Now I get the interchangeable dream. When you know more than one job, this cross-training makes it far easier to shore up needs as they arise. Be it short or long-term absences or an increased demand for people performing a certain function, this keeps things running at a high degree of efficiency. The Supervisor who uses this thinking puts more emphasis on having a team of equally skilled employees to draw on than they do on assessing the individual preferences of their staff.

However, consider that an employee who performs work they love doing and does a great job as a result, can transform a job into a passionate career. Now multiply that single person who loves what they do right across your team, and suddenly you’ve got a force to be reckoned with! When people love what they do and they perform great works, they come to work happier, they invest more in their time while there, attendance improves dramatically, and the culture of the workplace becomes dynamic.

I believe therefore, that this way of going about managing human capital in the workplace is a better model. It becomes critical for a Supervisor to get to know their employees; to learn what they are good at, what they excel at, and where their passions are. I feel there are too many Supervisors who make assumptions about those on their teams solely through work performance statistics and casual observations. Investing in people by having regular conversations to learn where their interests and passions are is a great way to learn about the people you are responsible for. And it follows that if those under a Supervisor’s watch collectively perform at a high level of efficiency because they are doing work they love and doing it well, that Supervisor in turn is going to be recognized by their own Supervisor for achieving results. We now have the win-win; the employees win, the Supervisor wins, the company wins and most importantly, the customer or consumer wins.

In reality, it doesn’t always follow that the above is what we experience though. There are those in Management positions who abuse their power. They may be disgruntled themselves and go out of their way to break the spirit of the great worker they see emerging, by removing them from doing what they obviously enjoy doing and relocating them to some other task they perceive will be less enjoyable. This abuse of power is exactly that; while they explain their move by saying things like it will help the individual grow, become more valuable or learn a new skill.

This isn’t the case of someone being in a rut and plateauing in the workplace who could benefit from a shot of stimulation. No, this could be the case of an unhappy boss, jealous of the worker who arrives happy, works happy and leaves happy. It’s also putting their own needs above the organization they both work with. Sure it’s petty, but many a Supervisor is gainfully employed doing exactly this. Maybe you’re working for one now.

Ah but the best Supervisors are the ones who invest in the people they supervise. You know, they listen, they observe, they go out of their way to get to know the people on their teams; what makes them happiest, where they can be put in positions to excel and succeed. This takes some effort on the part of the person to do these things on top of their other tasks. The investment in this process however creates a better culture. People feel they are being listened to, accommodated where possible and they appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Supervisor. And because we evolve, our needs and wants change, this should be an ongoing, living practice rather than a one-time conversation.

When you do work you love, and that work is something you do really well, you show more pride in your accomplishments, you’re a better ambassador for your organization and you also pull harder for the person who’s given you this opportunity.

As an employee, it’s important to communicate your preferences to your boss and do work that motivates and stimulates so you become a highly valued employee.

If you can’t find work you love and you’re good at? Move on. Your good mental health is at stake.

 

Career Planning Isn’t Mandatory


So here’s something that might surprise you; long-term career planning and mapping is NOT a mandatory requirement for career happiness and success. Well, that statement certainly flies in the face of the advice some very well-meaning professionals will give. And quite frankly, even the ones that acknowledge it isn’t absolutely mandatory will be wrong if they believe that only a small percentage of people reach career happiness without long-term planning.

Here’s why I believe the majority of people need not stress about the lack of some grand long-term plan.

First of all, when you’re in your teens and making choices about what courses to take in high school in order to eventually end up in college, university or a trade, you’re only basing these choices on the very limited exposure you’ve had in life to the world around you. You’re in your early teens and the people you’ve interacted with, the jobs you’ve acquired knowledge of are extremely confined to the ones you’re going to learn of in the next decade of your life. In other words, excepting some of course, it’s highly likely that with all the jobs that exist in the world – and will emerge in your future that don’t even exist in your teen years – the odds that what you want to do at 15 and 16 years of age will be what you’ll want to do until you’re 65 is very low.

In fact many high school graduates will take a year off before deciding what to do or what school to attend, simply to give themselves a year to make a better choice career-wise. Some will even do what they call a victory lap; another year of high school classes after graduating.

Further evidence are the people in first year university classes who take 5 very different subjects, just praying and hoping the light bulb goes on in that first year, and something grabs their interest. Maybe the first year classes include World Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, British Literature, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology. Oh by the way, these 5 were my own in year one. As it turns out, Sociology caught fire and so I loaded up with future courses to eventually graduate with a degree in Sociology.

In transitioning from a teen into a young adult, it is normal to expand your knowledge of various jobs and careers. As you start interacting independently with the world, responsible more often for things yourself, it only stands to reason that every so often some job catches your interest. Learning about the world around you and the people who live in it, many find themselves attracted to what others do. It follows naturally then that every so often you pause and think, “I could do that!”

Now of course we don’t act on every whim we get, but if we’re unsatisfied, curious, searching for something better or different, open to possibilities etc., we live consciously observing and then assessing pros and cons of various occupations. Sometimes we’ll also have conversations with folks in these jobs, asking them what they do, what skills and education it takes, how long they took to get started, the highs and lows, the good and the bad aspects of the work. Then we look and assess ourselves, what we both have and need if we wanted to head down some career path branching out from the path we’re on now.

This is normal by the way. To stay completely rigid, never varying from the path we imagined and set out on at 15 years old in this light seems the more peculiar. And yet, when we do decide to change our direction, for many it seems so hard to tell our parents, family and friends that we’ve had a change in what we want to do. Yes, we fear they’ll somehow think less of us; they’ll worry and think we’re indecisive and making an ill-informed choice. However, these family and friends haven’t been privy to the thoughts we’ve had – the deep, inner thoughts and feelings we’ve been experiencing for some time. It’s precisely these thoughts and feelings by the way that have acted as our guidance system. The more they cause us unease, the more we believe there has to be something else.

Even into our late 20’s and all the way into our 30’s and 40’s, it’s not uncommon for us to re-examine what it is we want to do with the rest of our lives. And why stop there? People in their 50’s and 60’s often take stock of where they are and what they want in their remaining working days often causing a job change.

When people near the end of their working life, it’s the norm – not the exception – that they’ll have amassed a varied career with several jobs and some career changes. Rather than meaning they fluttered from job to job aimlessly, it means they were wise enough to seize opportunities for change as they came along in life; and in the end they’ve had a diversified career. They may have in fact been very happy overall, where staying in one line of work may have caused them to feel trapped and less stimulated.

Now of course, one can be happy with one long-term career or several careers over a lifetime; even people with many jobs but no single career. Yes, you can win in the world of work any number of ways.

 

Looking For Work?


Not long ago, I was watching this fellow staring at the jobs on a board. I watched him scan the jobs for about 3 or 4 minutes and then he took one down and made a photocopy of it. Curious, I asked him what job he had selected and why that one.

He had to look at the posting and read me the job title. His reason for choosing this one was – and I quote – “I dunno. Why not? It’s as good as any other; there’ll all the same.” He then took his résumé and sent it to the email as requested by the employer. The whole process was about 10 minutes from first finding the job to having applied.

If your own job search is similar to this fellow’s, my guess is you’ve had a hard time finding truly satisfying work; a job or career that’s a great fit.

Here’s some factors to consider in the hunt for your next job:

  1. Know the purpose of the work you’ll do. This is more than just reading what you’ll do in a job posting. Look into why you’ll be doing the job and how what you’ll be doing contributes to the overall organization. When you understand the purpose of your work, your own value rises; successful people always know the purpose of what they do.
  2. Know your own work values. If you don’t even understand this one, get some guidance from an Employment Counsellor or Coach and define the things that you hold as highly valued. When you go looking for work, you can then ask questions to find the things an employer values and see how these will fit with respect to your own. Find a good fit and the probability of a good match increases significantly.
  3. Find a job that plays to your strengths. You have to know yourself well enough to understand what your strengths are in the first place, and of all your strengths, know which ones you really want to use most in your next job. When you do more of the things you’re good at, the likelihood that you’ll do well increases.
  4. Work with a boss or supervisor whose style you can thrive with. Most job seekers never even remotely consider the management style of the boss they’ll work under next, or if they do, they just hope it works out. Even when they’ve had a poor experience with a terrible supervisor, not many think to look into the leadership style of the next person they’ll report to. Make some inquiries, ask questions of people they supervise now.
  5. Know your value. Sure we all would like to make a lot of money, but what’s your objective value in the marketplace? Your year’s of experience, level of education and how dated that education is are just some of the factors that will go into determining the level of salary you can reasonably expect.
  6. While it might sound odd and a waste of your time, know your philosophy as it pertains to work. If you think you don’t have one, let me tell you that you really do, you just haven’t put it into words. The things you value are excellent clues about what guides you in the work you do, the decisions you make, the way you view the world around you. Find a job where your work philosophy is a natural fit and you’ll be so much more satisfied. Ever had a job you just couldn’t continue with because you didn’t agree with the way the employer went about things? That was really a conflict between your philosophy and theirs.
  7. As for your weak areas – and it’s natural to have them – don’t choose to work in a job where your weaknesses will expose you to being fired. If you’re not a people person, don’t work in Customer Relations! While working on improving yourself in areas you know you’re not strong is good, you’ll do best if the job plays more to your strengths.
  8. Know what motivates you. This next job is one you’ll be at presumably 7 or more hours a day and maybe 35 or more hours a week. The things that motivate you both personally and professionally should align in some way with this new job. Are you motivated by time with family? Then don’t choose a career or job that takes you away from them excessively such as on weekends and nights. You won’t last. If you’re motivated by money or security, look at the salary; the potential salary and is the length of your stay fixed at the start or in your own hands to determine based on your performance?
  9. Look at the commute. How are you going to get to this job? If you rely on transit, don’t waste many people’s time applying for jobs you’ll turn down or quit after two days because of distance. This might sound obvious, but many people suddenly realize things are too hard to get to. Take a trip before applying and imagine it 5 days a week.
  10. Find a fit with co-workers. Certain jobs, certain fields of work, attract people of similar beliefs, interests and personalities. Know what makes you tick, the things you like and don’t like in how you interact with co-workers. These are much more important than you might now believe.

Not a complete list for sure, but factors to think about. Comments?

 

Is It Necessary To Love Your Job?


So what do you think; yes or no?

There are people who have as long as they can remember, always wanted to ‘be’ whatever the job is they now hold. They told their moms and dads, aunts and uncles, “When I grow up I’m going to be a ______” and they never deviated from that goal. It’s not that they didn’t learn about other jobs and careers, it’s just that as they did so, whenever they compared the pros and cons of those jobs to their previous goal, they always chose the original one.

If you’re one of these folks, I sure hope that the work you do as an adult is bringing you all the joy and happiness that you imagined it would. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to change your career goal as you mature and possibly discover new interests and develop new skills that lead you in other directions. However, it would be quite sad if for some reason you found the job you’d fell in love with was much more attractive in thought rather than reality and you’ve done nothing to alter your career path.

The experience I’ve described; knowing from a very young age what you wanted to do in life and realizing that dream is the experience of a minority of people I imagine. I mean it’s far more likely that as we grow up and become more and more exposed to different kinds of jobs the likelihood that our interests catch fire with things we previously didn’t consider is high. Yes, for most of the general population, we not only become exposed to different careers and jobs, we imagine what they would be like to hold down personally, and from time-to-time we pursue these because they are more attractive than the jobs we hold.

But love? I mean with a capital, “L”? Is it necessary to Love your work in order to be and feel successful? Is it possible to do a job well and be paid a good wage but not be passionate about the work itself? Sure it is. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that there are a great many people who are good at what they do precisely because the money is good but, love their job? No way. So why would they stay in these jobs they don’t love? Uh, that would be because the money meets their needs and they can do the work required, so like Meatloaf the singer belted out, they’ve come to feel that 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

You have to appreciate and be happy though for the ones that have it all; a perfect 3 for 3. They perform their work extremely well, the money they are paid meets their wants and needs, AND they love the work they do. Boy are they lucky eh? (For my international readers, adding, ‘eh’ to the end of a sentence reveals me as a true Canadian! It’s kind of our way of saying, “you agree with me right?” or “you get it right?”)

Ah but wait; is it luck or is it that they’ve put in the work and made the decisions necessary that put them in the right position to take advantage of the opportunities Life brought their way? I suspect it’s the latter not the former. It might look like they got lucky but actually it meant being focused, making good decisions and when faced with problems and challenges they found ways to overcome those through hard work and always keeping their end goals in mind whenever they felt like giving up. Yes, I suspect they’d say luck had very little to do with their success.

So now I pose a question to you; if you’re not in love with your work, are you content to go on with things the way they are or, for you personally is loving what you do important enough that you’re prepared to actually DO something different to bring about change? Change after all is what’s required if 2 out of 3 isn’t good enough.

You can take the position that in 2017 jobs are so hard to come by you should just take whatever you can and love for your work is a thing of the past. If you believe that, I’m sorry to say that I personally feel you’re wrong; your own experiences may have jaded your view of things. The way I see it, there are 7 hours a day in a full-time job x 5 days in a traditional work week x perhaps 49 work weeks in a year for a total of 1,715 hours a year you’re on the job. That’s a lot of time to be occupied doing something you love doing or just endure. If you’re not in agreement that finding work you love to do is worth seeking out, you’re taking the position that 49 weeks of enduring work is a good trade-off for 3 weeks of doing what you love on your vacation. You really buy that?

So do you HAVE to LOVE your work? Absolutely not.

Or, is loving what you do; really LOVING what you do going to elevate your happiness and personal satisfaction making those 49 weeks and 1,715 hours a pleasurable experience? Absolutely yes.

Are you prepared to put in the work to bring about the change from your present circumstances to realize the job you’d LOVE to do? This my reader, is THE question.

 

Let’s Talk Your Perfect Job


The perfect job; well it depends doesn’t it. What’s a great job for some is a terrible fit for others. So it’s fairly safe to say that there is no one job that is going to be the ideal or perfect job for everyone. That being said however, you’re probably not looking for a job that is perfect for everyone anyhow; you’re looking for a job that’s perfect for you and you alone.

There are 3 core things that make up the perfect job and all three of these must be present and felt by the person for the job to be the best possible fit for the person doing the work. These include: a job that pays well, a job you’re good at and doing work that you love. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider when you’re evaluating the possibility of a job and / or career.

Before looking at the things you might want to contemplate when considering a job, imagine jobs you’ve held where only 1 or 2 of the 3 things has been present. Perhaps by way of example, you’ve found a job you’re good at and it pays well but you didn’t love it. Well you may have disliked the day-to-day work that you said, “There’s got to be something better!” so you left. Or imagine a job that you were good and it was work you loved doing, but the pay was so poor you couldn’t actually afford to keep working and needed more income and cried, “I love my job but I have bills, a mortgage and I want a better personal life!”, so you left. Of course the other possibility is that you loved the work itself and the job paid well but you weren’t really all that good in the job and you were let go.

Maybe one or more of these above scenarios have happened to you. Ah, but if you could find the right job with the right employer where: 1) you were good at the work, 2) it paid well and 3) you did what you loved, now that would be a winning combination!

Thinking of these three core items, here’s a short list of some of the things you might take into consideration when looking for that perfect job. Some of the items will have a low importance to you but perhaps be a key element for someone else. Conversely, someone else may put a low importance on something you feel very strongly about. So, think about how each of these impact on you personally as must haves in your perfect job:

  1. Getting positive feedback
  2. Doing physical work
  3. Outdoors vs. Indoors
  4. Working alone
  5. Group work
  6. Short commute
  7. Small Company
  8. Salary and benefits
  9. Supportive boss
  10. Challenging Work
  11. Tight deadlines
  12. Few distractions
  13. Creativity required
  14. Minimal change
  15. Job security
  16. Entry-level
  17. Advancement
  18. Recognition
  19. Humour and Fun
  20. Commission
  21. Flexible hours
  22. Shift work
  23. Weekends off
  24. Contract work
  25. Target bonuses
  26. Customer service

As you read each of the criteria I listed, which prompted a strong response and which were the items that you neither held a strong view one way or the other? When it comes to your commute, you may have such a small geographic area you are willing to work in, that you won’t be able to find a job doing what you love that pays well. And speaking of paying well, what does that mean for you? Some people are willing to sacrifice excellent pay for an average income if they work in a job they are good at and have passion for.

It may be that in order to make the high income you want, you have to expand your geographic area that you would be willing to work in. So now you require knowledge of what levels of income there are both where you live, and all the way out to the furthest you would be willing to commute. If an hour is your maximum commute, how do salaries vary between these distances for the same work? If you’d only commute 40 minutes, those incomes 41 – 60 minutes away must be passed over given your limitations.

Here’s how things break down if you only have 2 of the 3 core things required for the perfect job:

If you have a job that pays well and you’re good at it but it’s not what you love you’ll be bored.

If you have a job that pays well and you love it but you’re not good at it, you’re dreaming.

If you have a job you love and you’re good at it but you’re not paid well, you’ll be happy but poor.

You win when you have all three areas completely satisfied: you love what you do, you do it well and you’re paid well to do it.

Add other factors to your list beyond the 26 I’ve shared here. What’s important to you? Speak with people who love their work and are good at it who feel paid well for their services. As you have conversations you learn first-hand what the job is all about and from that you make your own assessment of what you’d love, what’d you be good at and what income you’d receive.

Does Your Job Make Life Better?


What purpose does your work serve? I mean, does it improve the quality of your life? What about the lives of others? I put it out there that if your work is not making your life better, you should be looking for something else – and fast!

This idea of making your life better in some way isn’t new. Whether it was the Industrial Age, The Crusades, why even all the way back to the early days of human civilization, people have always engaged in work activities that improved their quality of life. Going to war to preserve their lifestyle or freedom, creating some invention that would improve on whatever people currently had – it all made their lives better.

Okay so let’s look at us; you and me. We’ve got this general pattern where we depend entirely on others early in life and then develop into young people with hopes and dreams, testing our independence until we fly the nest and start relying on ourselves. We  make our own choices, and with each choice there are consequences great or small. Every choice we make seemed like a good idea at the time, and we made those choices to make our lives better; for the moment or long-term.

So is this why we become unhappy if we realize that our daily jobs don’t bring us the satisfaction and some sense of pleasure? The job itself may not be a fun one, but we justify continuing with it if what we get out of it improves our lives in some other way. Hence the money factor. Take a job not many would willingly do for the work alone, and attaching money to it will at some point attract enough people to perform the work you want done. Offer too little and you won’t attract the skilled people to do the work and the quality of the work will suffer.

Some Career Coaches or Employment Counsellors will inevitably ask the people they work with, “What would make you happy?” You see we get it. If you could share with us the work, job or career (substitute your word of choice) that would make your life better, then we could help you define the steps required to take you from your present situation to the reality of having the dream job you want. With the attainment of the job, you’ll be happy; your life would be better. So goes the theory.

The problem for many is they can’t answer the question, “What’s your dream job?” They honestly don’t know. It’s for this reason many people feel conflicted, confused, anxiety and ultimately voice this in statements like, “What’s wrong with me? I should know by now!” or the classic, “Everybody’s telling me to just get a job but I don’t know what I want to do.” Figuring out the, ‘want’ is really trying to figure out what would make life better.

After all, if you and I are going to invest 7 or so hours a day in some activity 5 days a week, presumably that investment of time should make our lives better. If the job we take doesn’t make life better, why are we still doing the work? Ah but then maybe it’s how we define a better life that is the real crux of the matter. If we hate the actual work we do with a passion – the exact opposite of what an employer typically asks for, but the job provides us with money that we then use to pay for rent, food, possessions and our lives improve on our personal time, some of us can then justifiably state that the job we hate makes life better.

Not all of us feel this way however. Some believe that the work they do is such a big part of their waking lives that it had better not only pay well, but the work itself has to bring them joy. The job has to be one they’d find fulfilling. However while some get out and try job after job trying to find  the right fit to improve their lives, others don’t. The ones that don’t make a decision not to do any work at all until they are fairly certain the job will bring them happiness. Not having ever done the work, they use their imagination to visualize themselves in a job, and with this limited knowledge or perception of what they believe the job to be, they make a decision to work or not in that job; usually deciding not to.

Researching a job or a profession is good advice to give you data you may find helpful in making a better informed decision on whether the job will make you happy or improve your life. All the research in the world can’t tell you how you’ll really experience that job however until you plunge into it. There are many variables like the supervision style of the person you report to, the comings and goings of co-workers that will affect the atmosphere, culture, location, hours of work etc.

If life is the best it can be keep doing what you’re doing – job or no job. If life isn’t as good as it could be with the work you currently do, and presuming you want it to be better, get going; you’ve only got so much time to improve your life through your work.

What do you think people?

‘Loving Your Job’ Maybe The Wrong Message?


How’s the job going? Enjoying your work? What about the people you work with, the commute to and from the workplace and the atmosphere?

For some people the job they do has to be fulfilling and they have to love the work they do. From their perspective, if they are going to be working for years in a job they do 7 hours or more a day and the job doesn’t provide them with real satisfaction and reward, why do it? It can be difficult for these people to understand how others can go to work day in and day out and NOT love the work they do.

There are many however who don’t feel they have to be in love with their jobs. Their work might be necessary, even vitally important, but they sure wouldn’t ever try to convince themselves or others that they love their jobs. No, these folks might value the security of a job, maybe it’s stable hours and benefits, but the work itself isn’t of prime importance to them personally.

We have to be careful I believe in the message we spread as Employment Counsellors and Advisors. Come to think of it, it goes well beyond just this profession. No matter who we are or the job in which we toil, it is vitally important we recognize that the messages we pass on be sensitive and helpful.

So for example, telling a group of unemployment people that they should ultimately be looking for work that pays well, offers security and they should keep searching until they find both of these things while doing work they really love and feel good about doing might be poor advice. Might we only be setting some up to pass on work that is financially rewarding and secure but scores low on the, “I love my job” factor?

Worse yet is the person who takes a decent job with relative hopes of advancement but quits because they’ve had it hammered home that they should love their job and the work in that entry-level job just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the job they’d love to do actually is two promotions away, but their seeming impatience with the two jobs they’d need to be in line for the position are two jobs they won’t do.

One last group to make the point are the young people who are doing jobs they love that come with long hours, little to average pay, but they love it. The pressure and stress of having to somehow, ‘measure up’ and take a ‘serious’ job might also cause them stress as they try to meet others expectations instead of their own.

Now it would be nice of course if we all loved the work we did, got paid well to do it, had some security if we wanted that and our futures were bright. However, that opinion might not be everyone’s. No, there are some people who like variety, don’t want security at all and thrive on change so they look for contract jobs exclusively.

There are some people too who don’t really understand this whole, “You have to love what you do” sentiment. They scratch there heads and ask why someone putting in a sewer line and hooking up water supplies has to love their job. They might make the case that they do what they do because the pay is good, the job stable, the work is needed. ‘Loving the job’ is not only not required, it’s not even on their radar 90% of the time.

Yes I think we should be cautious with this, “you’ve got to keep looking for work until you find what it is you love” message. And it comes in different forms doesn’t it? There’s the message that goes, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. There are many people who work daily – work very hard daily – and they are completely satisfied with themselves at the end of the day precisely because the work was tough and they rose to the challenge.

We all have varying views on so many things in life, is it really any wonder than that we should have varying views on the importance of job happiness; loving our work? Oh to be sure I imagine there are times when everyone re-evaluates where they are, where they see themselves going and what could or might be down the road. Forward planning is something people do to varying degrees largely dependent upon where they find themselves in life both chronologically and geographically.

Do you have to love your job? I don’t think it’s a definitive yes. I’ve been successful in many jobs and careers over the years across different fields of work. Not all those jobs turned my ‘job satisfaction meter’ all the way to, “LOVE MY JOB”, but I was good at them.

My point is that spreading the message you have to find a job you love could actually be the wrong message for some people; setting them up for unnecessary stress. If loving your job works for you (and I do love my work) maybe that’s a bonus for you as it is for me.

Being good at a job need not mean we love our jobs, and that shouldn’t make the jobs – or the people who do them – any less fulfilled or valued.

 

 

Why A Perfect Job Becomes Stale (And It’s A Good Thing)


A phenomenon that happens often to many people I know may also have happened to you personally. This is when a job you once thought was the perfect job and you were thrilled to have it, becomes less appealing, less rewarding and sometimes downright boring. What went wrong?

In short the answer is nothing. In fact if anything, this can be wonderful news if you look at it from a different perspective, and I want to illustrate the positive side for those of you who might be feeling negative. You see what really has happened in the vast majority of instances is that the job itself hasn’t changed at all. However, with the passing of time from that first day you accepted this job as new, you have grown yourself. What was once new and challenging has become easy to do and the challenge has largely disappeared. And the challenge was your motivation.

So why is this a positive? Ah, well that’s because you my dear reader have improved in your abilities; your skills have significantly advanced to a degree where your mind is sending you a signal that it’s time for re-evaluation. You’ve heard that saying that it’s the journey not the destination that is important? You’re now the poster man or woman for that old adage. The journey to get where you are now was what you found stimulating and had you hungry to go to work everyday. But now, months or years later, you’re comfortable, complacent perhaps, and the job is not providing you with as much gratification because the journey is over; you’ve arrived.

This is precisely why people who often change jobs, or work from contract to contract are hard to fathom by those who stay in one job seemingly forever. Do you recall a generation of people who took a single job – maybe two at the very most for their entire lives? For those generations, it wasn’t cool to be so apparently self-absorbed in finding your job happiness, they worked to earn a living. But our generation and that of our children, is all about finding work that brings us meaning and fulfillment. When it wanes, look for another job and keep stimulated.

So in a practical sense, what to do? Well clearly, if you grow unhappy, you’ve ultimately got two simple choices – and it is simple. One you either accept your unhappiness and change nothing, or you change something and rediscover your joy and take on new challenges. Taking on new challenges could mean you look for a new job altogether with the same employer or a new one. But as many know, it can also mean having the same job title that you hold right now, but doing the job differently, more creatively, maybe with new responsibilities.

And this last option in a tight economy where you might be unwilling or scared to test the waters of job searching may be exactly what you need. The change in either option however has to start with you. (Well it doesn’t HAVE to start with you, it could be forced on you by your boss who isn’t happy with your performance, but let’s leave that one for another blog!) It is a fantastic time to listen to your mind and do a self inventory. By asking your colleagues, your boss, your subordinates, your peers and network of contacts, you should get an idea of how you are viewed by others. What do they value in you? What do you see as your own strengths and assets?

From that long list of skills and qualifications, what are those skills that you most want to use in the next couple of years? Nix a five-year plan…too long and too much could change. And think about what skills you have that are weak here too. Maybe you want to improve in certain areas.

Now armed with your skill inventory, think about where you get your buzz. What turns you on and gets you motivated to excel and fires your passion, your enthusiasm. Instead of looking for what you could do right now with ease, what would be challenging and just a bit difficult or require you to learn from someone else? This is the growth you might just be craving. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but embrace that which is just a little out of your reach so when you achieve it and call it your own, you’ll feel great from reaching a new accomplishment.

Now it’s time to talk with your boss. Assuming you are performing your current job responsibilities to the satisfaction of the company, you’re looking to share your desire for new challenges, and want that person on board with your career development. It doesn’t mean you’ll be fired in the next two days just by having a conversation. My goodness if things are THAT bad, move on and stay mentally healthy!

This discussion with your boss shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Ask for 30 minutes or more and a few meetings. Your looking perhaps for their advice and counsel, and they’ll appreciate time to do some succession planning on their own if you move on via a promotion. You may find their flattered you’re seeking their mentorship. They may identify courses or training to acquire skills you’ll need to advance. You could also be given new assignments or co-author a new job description altogether.

As the ads say, “Stay thirsty my friends.”

How To Avoid Getting Stuck In A Job


There are two ways to avoiding getting stuck; one is to plan ahead, and the other is to take a different course of action once you are stuck so you don’t continue to remain stuck and can proceed.

Consider just for a moment a vehicle approaching a wet and muddy dirt road. A wise driver sizes up the road if it must be traveled at all, and keeps his or her eyes well ahead to best aim for the high and drier sections, avoiding the deep ruts, the puddles of unknown depths. If the vehicle does get stuck, instead of sitting there just spinning the tires again and again, the prudent driver gets out, wedges something like small branches under the tires if nothing else is available, and uses this new traction to move the vehicle.

Now apply this same logic and scenario to your present situation. Surely you’ve heard of people being stuck in a job, feeling like they are going nowhere. Most of the time, I have found through conversation that few of those people bothered to really look ahead to see what was down the road. In fact, with no long-distance view or planning, they accepted a job and were quite happy at the time, only to stall and grown discontented with their work. So what went wrong?

Using the same analogy as the vehicle, what really happened was short-sighted planning. The person found out about the job, did a little research, landed the interview after applying, sold the interviewer on them, accepted the job offer and then got so hung up on doing the daily stuff that they neglected to keep on working for the future. The result of course is that the person has the necessary skills and knowledge to do the present job, but hasn’t put together a plan of further training that will allow them to compete for advancement. They stopped looking down the road for higher ground.

Now feeling stuck in a job going nowhere, the solution is essentially the same as the vehicle stuck in the rut. If all you do is come to work and do the requirements of the job you have now, you’re spinning your tires and learning nothing new, and hence are not putting yourself in a position to successfully advance. However, like getting out to wedge some small branches under the tires, you can gain traction in your future by pausing to put some things in place now that will ultimately advance your career.

So how do you get started on a practical basis? Well, first look at positions in your present company that interest you. These positions are primarily higher up on the organizational chart, but consider lateral moves too. A move that keeps you at the same line on the salary grid but gives you additional experience and provides a change might be just what you need at present. Okay so now looking at these positions, get a hold of the job description and see what the requirements are in terms of skills, knowledge, experience etc.

As a first step, you know now what is required and can gauge how you are presently positioned to compete if there was a job opening today. If you find that you are missing a few things, the next logical step would be to determine how you can go about acquiring those skills and experience. And it’s not always a return to school that is the answer. Sometimes it’s displaying leadership which you could obtain by taking on a project or volunteering to chair some committee.

Another thing you should do is communicate to your immediate supervisor that you have an interest in a specific position if the opportunity should present itself. This can be done in a very non-threatening way if you communicate that you are doing some long-range planning. Avoid stating how unhappy you are at present, or that you are considering an imminent departure. You want their support and guidance not their lack of trust and suspicion, so why not ask for their advice and suggestions on how best to advance? Communicate that you admire how they themselves are in a position of leadership for example, and get them on board with you.

When you have a goal of obtaining a different position, be it in the near or distant future, it’s also a good idea to put some kind of time frame on that goal. Is it a six month plan, a one year plan or a two-year plan. I personally don’t like looking too far beyond three years, as too many variables can affect that planning. Decide what’s right for you personally.

Next thing to do is put in place some shorter term objectives that will as you reach them, signal to you and your boss if you have shared these, that you are advancing; things are on track, and your ultimate goal is getting closer. This is also great for your mind if you otherwise feel stagnated, trapped, stuck and unchallenged. Yes this is some work on top of coasting along doing what you normally do, but you want something different right? Keep focused on why you’re doing the extra work in the first place – you want to become unstuck!

Job shadow someone in the job now, set up a lunch meeting. How bad do you really want to advance?