Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Setting Goals, Not Goal Seeking

A couple of years ago I happened to be facillitating a group of job seekers, and was having difficulty expressing the idea that they would need to convey the idea that they would be active players who would always be thinking on behalf of their employers—at least on their résumés. Cursed by my fleeting acquaintance with the social sciences, in desperation I asked them in the word “agency” meant anything to them.

And to their credit they admitted honestly that it did not.

Wikipedia says agency “refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.” If I were an employer I would want my employees to adhere to policy yet I would also want them to be able to remain able to capable of agency. Ideally I think I would want more.

In the days when the work that most of us would have done would have been governed by strict guidelines and policies most employers would have demanded our compliance. Everything about our lives, including the stultifying education system, was created to ready us for that life. Which is one of the points made in Seth Godin’s blog item “It’s easier to teach compliance than initiative.” As implied in the title Godin would claim that employers now want their employees to show initiative. I think they might be more interested if a job applicant can demonstrate a little bit more.

The wiktionary defines initiative as “1. A beginning; a first move. 2. A new development; a fresh approach to something; a new way of dealing with a problem. 3. The ability to act first or on one's own.” It may all seem to be just a matter of semantics but my objection to the use of the word “initiative” is that it places insufficient emphasis on goal setting. I doubt that employers want their employees just to barge ahead. Having enough employees like that might make them long for the days of compliance.

We all look for ways to get our clients to look at the planet from the point of view of employers. Getting them to show how they have developed goals and worked through solutions as if they were extra pairs of hands for the employer are perennial problems for us.

Recently, rather than asking clients for STAR stories, say, I have been taking what is actually a more direct approach. I ask clients to tell me what goals they might have had for themselves, for their coworkers, for their bosses, for their employers and for their occupations or professions, or any other individuals or groups that might seem relevant. Then we focus on how to market that person’s special strategy forming abilities in the service of an employer.

And of course I know longer ask them about agency.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Women & Men Mentoring Students

Have you heard of this concept before? It's new to me anyway.

The Halton Industry Education Council is hosting two evening meetings in March at the Burlington Convention Centre, one for women and one for men. The essential idea as I understand it is that students who are thinking about their career options will have an opportunity to hear what various kind of occupations are like from people who have been employed in these occupations. The format is meant to be informal and unrehearsed.

Please look at the HIEC website for further information. If you know of other initiatives like this please let us all know.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dr Jim Bright Interviews Professor John Krumboltz of Stanford University

“In June this year [2009 presumably], Jim Bright caught up with Professor John Krumboltz at Stanford University. We talked about his learning approach to career development and the Happenstance learning theory – based on the idea that you need to capitalize on unplanned events in careers.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Selling the Idea of Identifying Barriers to Employment

A couple of days ago I responded to a question on LinkedIn about what should be discussed with groups of people who have been unemployed for a long time. The question came from someone in the UK.

I included the identification of barriers to employment amongst my suggestions, which seems to have pleased both the questioner and his clients. Now, in Canada identifying barriers is a matter of routine. So I can’t take any credit for this idea. The reason I mention it here is that it has become obvious to me—when it wasn’nt before!— that barriers are what unemployed people actually want to know about.

“I've sent my résumé to a bazillion employers. Why haven't I got an interview?”
“I got two interviews but no job.”
“I have all the credentials but I can’t get hired.”
“Do you think I’m too old? Too young? Too fat?”
“Are my jeans too tight?”

Our clients are asking us about barriers. When they do this we can congratulate them on their insight and then transition into a discussion in which we encourage them to think about barriers in general throughout the process.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chuck Gill: Somebody Enjoying His Career as a Systems Engineer

... thanks to his mother who made him watch a moon landing.

Go to Plus Podcasts - Maths on the Move and spin down to “Plus Careers Podcast 3, September 2008: Systems engineer”.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day: 24 March 2010

Ada Lovelace was the world’s first programmer.

Last year I was one of thousands of people to offer a tribute to my choice of a woman in science or technology in my blog on Ada Lovelace Day. I wrote about Dr Adele Goldberg. I still haven’t decided whom to mention this year. Part of the reason for this is that it fairly difficult to find candidates from which to choose for the very reason that Ada Lovelace Day is set aside. I mean, we hear a great deal about men who achieve significant goals in science and technology, much less about women. Yet I know they exist. The difficulty is in identifying or being reminded of a few individuals even when you know this.

Will you join me this year? If only to force yourself to experience how challenging it can be to identify a few women in science and technology who are of significance to you go to and pledge to publish a blog item on 24 March about a woman you admire.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010