Career Planning – Say No to Your Intuition
While it used to be that a sophisticated organization would have been proud to present its employees with a career and promotion track, today the employee's personal development is his own responsibility. Organizations have become less paternalistic, both in terms of directing the worker and taking care of his needs. Their control over employees and the work they do, even within the company itself, is diminishing.
Dr. Motti Neuman: That's right. Sometimes intuition can direct someone to make big changes, but not necessarily effective ones, while gradual change and building a course of action based on small, carefully weighed steps would bring the goal within reach more quickly. A person can be infused with a desire to make a change and choose a direction totally different from the one pursued so far without really assessing whether it's the right direction to take. The reason is because in order to sever ourselves from work we've been involved in for a long period of time, we enlist and mobilize great energies. Sometimes this energy takes us too far. Also, entering a totally new area of activity that leads to performing an entirely different set of tasks appears to be a surer guarantee of the change we're hoping for.
Shuki: This means a lot of advantages the worker has accumulated over the years go down the drain – professional know-how and experience, or connections in the field.
Motti: That's why someone who wants to make a career change should first evaluate every related or overlapping profession. For example, someone who worked in the field of medicine could consider working in fields like diet, beauty or physical fitness. And someone who worked in the field of bookkeeping should evaluate jobs involving the sale of office equipment or consulting or services for accounting firms, or retraining programs for positions in bookkeeping, accounting and tax consulting.
Shuki: It seems both of us are worthwhile examples of adopting this approach. For years you were a police officer involved in personnel. When you were released from the police force you started an independent company that dealt with retraining for candidates who left a prior field, in addition to career planning services for them, and today you have a job in a similar field at Pilat. Thus you changed your area of expertise in accordance with your changing needs, but you didn't change your field of work. You continue to carry out the same type of work and deal with the same professional milieu. You maintained your know-how and professional contacts.
Motti: Absolutely. Our ties over the years is a good example. You did the same. You were a salaried employee for several years in the fields of human resources and work relations. You lectured, provided consulting services and wrote about these fields, and then you continued working in these fields as a self-employed professional. And when you started writing books you continued carrying out the same work, only the platforms changed.
Shuki: One of the problems in career planning is the fear of change. The fear of the unknown.
Motti: This is a powerful psychological trap that makes many people hold onto the present set of circumstances to maintain the status quo. Added to it is another human tendency to defend the commitments they've taken on, i.e. the initial choice they made. Therefore they continue to invest in what they're used to doing, working at the same jobs and getting drawn up into an unthreatening routine without objectively evaluating the possibilities and risks, both in the area they are working in and in facing the real alternatives before them.
Shuki: Sometimes an individual may make a decision because of a specific event or for a specific reason, even if it's an ongoing situation. For instance, someone who has an unbearable boss may decide to leave an interesting job, or even become self-employed, because he's no longer willing to have someone on his back ever again.
Motti: And that's why the decision to make a career change must be calculated and based on a methodical examination of the situation.
Shuki: Because starting an independent business does not have to be in order to do away with something negative, but out of a desire to advance something positive.
Motti: Something positive, such as a desire to realize a good idea combined with a drive to succeed and to make a personal and commercial breakthrough. Or this individual feels he has knowledge needed in the market in which he operates and his work will be in demand. Starting an independent business is right for a person who feels his ability to contribute a lot beyond what his current job permits him to do.
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Shuki: We spoke about situations in which a person has realized his potential in his work. Under such circumstances he feels the work he does no longer brings him genuine pleasure and gratification, and then he looks for a way out of the labyrinth he's in. In such a situation one really is liable to make hasty decisions. So he should constantly be aware of opportunities for personal development that come his way. Don't wait until you're thirsting for a change, because then you'll leap at anything, but rather anticipate the future and realize that alternatives should be considered before you lose interest in your current job.
Motti: This approach can be referred to as the "dental care model" for examining your career. There are two ways to care for your teeth: you can go to the dentist in response to a toothache or you can go in for checkups from time to time. The same applies when it comes to career planning. It's highly recommended that you adopt the periodic checkup method by evaluating where you stand in relation to your goals and aspirations. When doing such a checkup you should also look into market trends in your fields, as well as the need to update the goals you set for yourself in light of changing needs.
Shuki: I meet a lot of people in the process of career transitions. Many of them initiate the meeting for two main reasons: one, to seek advice on how to proceed and on the opportunities available in the job market, and two, they assume I have an extensive network of connections and maybe they can make use of it to expand the opportunities open to them.
Motti: That's the right way to manage a career. You shouldn't fight the battle alone. A person has to consult with and get help from someone who's in a position to assist. Some people who are headed for a career change and are evaluating job alternatives put together a sort of "advisory council" composed of close friends with whom you can consult when choosing a new path.
Shuki: For instance, they can make him aware of his limitations. People are not always aware of their shortcomings, so in many cases people occupy posts and do jobs they're not suited for.
Motti: And they find it hard to admit it. There are professions and jobs like firefighter, sapper or combat soldier that require a lot of courage and even a willingness to risk one's life. But there's also another kind of courage and showing such courage requires almost the same inner strength like that needed to march off into battle, to catch criminals or to rush into a burning building – the courage to look in the mirror, see yourself and accept what you see. The courage to come to terms with and accept the imperfection, flaws and blemishes in each of us. Many people lack this courage, therefore they are stuck and cannot realize their potential, because only problems and flaws that a person sees can be rectified.
Shuki: Researchers on the career world created the concept of "career anchors," which can help people better plan the direction in which their careers develop. Could you give a brief overview of this concept and the lessons that can be learned from it?
Motti: A person's career anchor consists of important characteristics, including tendencies, values, motivations and talents. These elements guide his choice of which profession to pursue and which jobs to engage in. When these elements do not sufficiently match the work he does, difficulties and a lack of gratification arise. Proper career planning means one must evaluate his career anchors and seek jobs and tasks suited to them.
The primary career anchors researchers have identified are as follows: