Career Planning

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 - career coaching, career planning, Employment, job search, professionalism, Qualifications

Career Planning

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As we return slowly over the next eighteen months to an economy which is creating more jobs than it is shedding, and unemployment starts to fall, in the world of employment we will see two issues return to the table:

  • the shortage of skills within the market place, resulting from reduced birthrate
  • the need for job holders to return to career planning

This blog and website is about employment and CV’s, so let us put the first one aside: that’s for God and Mother Nature to solve!

But the evidence of the past 12months should have woken many up to the benefits of career management, and also the risks of reliance on a career based on just a few employers.

Career Balance

I read a blog post the other day, written by a Career Coach who focuses on IT professionals. The article proposed that you only needed a Professional CV Writer when you were in one of three situations:

  • Career transitions
  • Employment gaps
  • (lack of) hands on experience

I won’t disagree with those suggestions, but the biggest problems I have seen during this ongoing recession are two fold:

  • A lack of an ability to communicate skills
  • A series of unbalanced careers: overly reliant on one employer, and their needs for the type of skill

Corporate Work

The worst victims or offenders – depending on your view point – are the corporate workers. Initially I had a number of similar chat over a coffee conversations, which I now undertake as a 10minute chats over the telephone, so numerous are the requests:

  • Hi Ian, I have some great skills, but I am unhappy with my corporate career, and want to leave!
  • “Why? Are you being threatened with redundancy?”
  • Most often answered as No, I just feel it would be time for a change. When what they really mean is that their company is undertaking a review, and they are feeling the cold chill of loss of power
  • “OK, what are your skills?” Which is met by a long list of corporate orientated to that specific company skills
  • “Great, and what qualifications do you have in that skill?” To which I am met with a blank stare – or silence on the telephone. Then, after what for them is a cliff edge experience of all the training opportunities they turned down and now regret, is followed by an explanation that they stopped studying at school (cringe thinks I – this will be tough) or university (less of a cringe) or that they have two+ children aged X and 10, and that stopped any free time they had (less of a cringe, more of an inevitable = “love your kids” answer)

What none of these people have realised before this conversation, is that much as though their salary is great – probably over proportioned – and their total package even better, they only deserve those benefits for working with that company. If the company has a good year, their benefits go up, if the company has a bad year, their benefits go up slightly slower – they never feel the economic chill. It is only when the whole economy has been placed in the economic freezer, that they suddenly feel cold. That’s when career planning really pays off!

Skills, Qualifications, Experience

Employers don’t ask for much when seeking new employees. They want a combination of skills, qualifications and applied experience. What these corporate workers have is the skills and the experience, but not thesupporting or confirming qualifications.

Now, much as though you can sell yourself to an employer without the necessary qualifications, you will:

  • Take longer to sell yourself without the necessary qualification
  • Have to accept a lower salary/package, as you recognise the employer is taking a great risk

Qualifications are what are termed in the world of employment as transportable competencies. It would be true that you could go too far the other way, and just study for your entire life: in which the reverse problem of lack of experience would occur.

The only way I have seen any number of people jump successfully from academia to the corporate commercial world is on the back of a theoretical or technological development that they were involved in the research development of. Resultantly, they have a unique skills and application experience of the theory or technology, so a skill short market which needs to deploy it will accept the potential downsides.

Career Planning = SQE Balance

Any Career Planning needs to be undertaken with the view of always balancing your skills, qualifications and experiences. I always say to anyone thinking about leaping into a new job or career, is:

What could you write on your CV two years hence,

and how does that take you towards your ideal career?

If you can’t answer that question, or the supplemental of:

What combination of skills, qualifications and experiences

will you have additionally gained that an employer would want?

Then don’t take the job!

If many of the corporate career people we help on a daily basis had listened to that advice before this recession, they wouldn’t need us so much. But they do, and we are always happy to help in any way we can.

Good Luck!


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