Glossary: ABCs of Career Choice
In career terms, accomplishments may be: (1) having a career that
matches and dovetails with "who you are" your interests,
needs, preferences, your most enjoyable skills, most transferable
skills, strongest skills, an so on; (2) achieving something that
you recognize as emotionally satisfying and fulfilling; (3)
achieving something that the world recognizes and rewards
(a Nobel Prize, an Emmy, a Grammy).
These are careers that may or more appropriate or a better fit than your current career.
To certain people, ambition may be deemed pointless, vicious, "perverse"
in an unjust society "arising from a lack of ability", a "dirty
little secret", the dark side of self promotion, careerism, opportunism,
or best kept hidden (as in Jay Gatsby, Sammy Glick, Uriah Heep).
However, to career management professionals, ambition is an "ardent
desire for rank, fame, or power", the "fuel and oxygen of achievement",
intrinsically healthy, innate, a foundation for developing the complete
person, a way of forming our own destiny.
Pervasive need to appear satisfied with one's career years
ago made open and free discussion of career dissatisfaction off-limits
and even taboo; this aggravated the mismatch between our preferences
and our careers, intensifying career dissatisfaction career confusion,
career burnout, and career malaise. The modern approach emphasizes
systematic and explicit career assessment,
career, options exploration, implementation, that
lead to career change, career re-tooling, career renewal, and career
A systematic and detailed answer to the question, "Who are
you?", is the result of a professional career assessment.
It objectifies and identifies your preferences, your needs,
your values, your most-enjoyable skills, your strongest skills,
your most transferable skills. It also provides a range of career
options based on who you are, and develops the ability to
describe yourself clearly and fluently -- initially to yourself,
and later on in interviews.
In contemplating a career transition, it's important to be mindful
of your personal and professional assets. These often include: a
bushel basket of fundamental and exotic skills, many of them "bankable"
coin of the realm reusable in other occupations or careers;
the good-will of friends and colleagues; the ability to recognize
opportunities when they appear serendipitously, or to develop them
through contacts and networking; the ability to acquire new career
skills, attitudes, and behaviors; See optimism.
Discovering career activities that utilize your abilities to the
fullest; achieving results that are important to you; allowing or
stretching your interests to accommodate as widely as possible who
you are. A balanced life is a salient goal of professional career
management, and a highly recommended priority for those seek career
A one-page biography is often more effective than a resume. A resume
tell who you are or wereCnot who you want to be. So the bio helps
you to the extent that you are changing career directions. The subtext
of virtually any resume is: "Please help me. I'm desperate. I need
a job." Consequently, a one page bio has more dignity than a resume,
and does not carry the implied desperation or neediness, a poor
stance for negotiation purposes.
Your career may now be chaotic, complex, or confusing perhaps set
in motion early on by simple but inappropriate career decisions
made long ago, which amplified themselves over time into distressful
or crisis career circumstances now. A butterfly flapping its wings
in Iowa could put into motion a set of atmospheric conditions that
could culminate in a monsoon in Indonesia. You might not comprehend
the future consequences of your early initial error. "The significant
problems we have cannot be solved at the level of thinking with
which we created them"...Albert Einstein.
In job and informational interviews, it is necessary and essential to be as honest -- yet positive -- as possible. "What comes from the heart, goes to the heart"...the Talmud.
The word vocation come from the Latin "to call". Being called to
an occupation, as in a religious calling, reveals its presence by
a sense of extreme dedication, continually energized and inspired
by our deepest feelings. "Each of us must find and obey the demon
that holds the very fiber of our being."...Max Weber.
Our general, moral, or intellectual course of action through life;
following our profession, training, occupation, or life's work.
Increasingly, we have more than one career per life-time. Those
who work within their preferences report that they view their career
as "an activity embedded within the flow of life", a "useful pursuit
of worthy goals", a "worthy expression of my life", an "opportunity
to make others feel good." To experience and live these definitions:
recall the best things you've ever done, and then find the opportunity
and venue to do them again.
The ability to change careers is measurable by comparison with those
who have changed careers often, easily, happily, and successfully.
About 10 percent of the US adult work force changes occupations
per year, and about four million members of the work force change
employers per month. This represents some 12 million occupational
changes, and 48 million job changes, per year.
Career decision-making patters
Prior decisions and patterns of decision, that you may not be fully
aware of, that may be responsible for your current career or your
current career dissatisfaction. These may be identified by systematic
examination of each career choice made contemporaneously, the other
options available and the rationale at that time, and how those
decisions appear 'in retrospect'.
A state of career distress, malaise, confusion, or burnout which
occurs when your work and 'who you are' no longer feel compatible
or comfortable. See career evaluation
, assessment, assets, alternative
careers, appearances, career change ability, butterfly effect, calling,
career health, career well-being.
A systematic approach to identifying all of your preferences--your
skills, your strongest skills, your most enjoyable skills, your
transferable skills, your needs and values, your prior career decision-making
patterns--in order to develop a range of desirable career options
given who you are.
An attainable career condition, similar to physical and medical
health, in which individuals alter a career or job when desirable
or necessary to achieve satisfaction or harmony between who they
are and what they do. This is measured by comparing oneself against
a gold standard of rare individuals who have changed careers easily,
often, happily, and successfully. (career-change champions).
Career or vocational possibilities open to you based upon your personal
and professional preferencesCyour skills, interests, needs, and
values. Each option is then tested against timely realistic marketplace
data to determine how well >your career option= and >the real world=
fit together, dovetail, or harmonize.
Applying a systematic and logical process of evaluating oneself
and ones career in order to develop a master plan or theory of career
victory to achieve an acceptable fit. Then implementing the plan
or theory to achieve career satisfaction based upon the marketplace
and who you are.
A state of career satisfaction or fulfillment.
Career-change champions are those who have changed careers often,
easily, happily, and successfully. We can compare ourselves to their
career beliefs, career attitudes, and career behaviors since these
reveal common themes and hallmarks. Examples of successful and satisfied
early career choosers: Steven Spielberg, who made his first film
at age eight; Albert Einstein, who had his first inkling of relativity
at age sixteen. Example of a satisfied career changer: Benjamin
Franklin, who was a printer, author, inventor, engineer, politician,
In career terms, compensation includes the full range of rewardsCsubjective,
objective, emotional, financial, ego-gratifying that accompany a
good fit between an individual and a career.
The group of individuals and organizations that allow us to share
and communicate our career interests, skills, desires; properly
approached, these individuals can help us expand our marketplace
data, and amplify our career wisdom about new career directions
we are contemplating.
Curriculum vita (cv)
A written presentation of one's career achievements and landmarks,
work experiences, education, publications, awards. Formerly useful
for obtaining and academic or research position. Not as useful or
dignified as a one-page bio, especially for changing career directions,
since cv (or resume) tells who or what you >are or were--not
who or what you want to be.
Past career choices may represent imperfect understanding of yourself
and incomplete knowledge of the world as it is. "Much of the journey
toward career self-realization is not known to the individual either
at the time it is happening, or even (surprisingly) in rerospect...Time
is unlikely to unveil important career decision process, since individuals
are too involved to perceive connection, or too inexperienced to
be able to assess them correctly"....Eli Ginzberg. Nevertheless,
these patterns are discernable later in life, often with outside
guidance or rigorous self-examination, or both.
Pessimism and systematic negativity, extending over a period of
weeks or months, that can paralyze or damage one's career and career
decision-making, and degrade the quality of one's life. Depression
may be situational or clinical, and is usually treatable with medication,
therapy, or in combination, and is measurable by brief written test.
Declaration of career independence
Specify your long and short-range career goals in writing. State
its cost to you in time or effort. Indicate the necessary steps
you must take, including "perfect execution" in written form. Write
your past successes, and elaborate what they felt like. Then write
what you new career goals, costs, and necessary steps will feel
In expanding one's circle or web of contacts, or networking to expose
new options, desensitization is the ability to remove or overcome
obstacles or personal stigmas that might retard the process.
Career unhappiness, burnout, confusion, malaise. See depression, career well-being.
When organizations fire employees or let them go. Downsizing may take place in the mistaken belief that the down-sized organization will become more profitable or cost effective.
Often an impediment to changing careers, education strengthens a
favorite set of skills or "muscle" at the expense of others. See
Coined by Daniel Goleman to describe 'street smarts' or social competence
in win-win situations where many participants benefit; a set of
people skills and abilities that "win friends and influence people";
the ability to mobilize others and who or what they know to advance
their interests and yours.
Employers find new employees to hire by: (1) asking trusted employees
(least expensive method for employer); (2) asking friendly competitors;
(3) placing want ads (more expensive for employer); (4) hiring search
firms (most expensive). But, most employees search for jobs in ways
that are incompatible with these facts and employer realities: (1)
employees respond to ads (easiest and least productive for employee
to find work); (2) sending out unsolicited resumes (very unproductive);
(3) using recruiters or search firms (paid for by the employer,
and thus not serving the career interests of employee); (5) asking
colleagues, associates, friends (most socially difficult and yet
demonstrably most productive).
See letters, contacts.
Entrepreneurs have the ability or talent to shift resources from areas of low productivity and yield to areas of high productivity and yield. They understand a marketplace need and how to serve or fulfill that need.
If you speak to three individuals from each of whom you glean three
contacts, and from each of them you glean three more contacts, then
you have access to twenty-seven sources of new information about
a new career direction hitherto unknown to you. Thus by successive
'generations' of contacts or 'degrees of separation' you can increase
your contacts exponentially.
Meeting for the purpose of gathering information from a contact
or "target" are called "informational interviews", since you interview
the target. These are done most effectively face-to-face, rather
than at a distance, since most human communication is non-verbal,
and you can thereby learn what the target's career looks and feel
If one goal fades, an optimist finds another and strives to reach
it. Optimism is one of the best predictors of career success and
satisfaction. By breaking down formidable goals into discrete specific
elements, optimists are able to accomplish much.
Career well being resembles physical fitness; exercise improves
both. Diagnosis and check-ups prevents loss of health and muscle
strength (atrophy), just as career diagnosis and career check-ups
help prevent "career atrophy" and "career malaise". It's more important
to know what person has the career, than what career the person
During a job interview, the invitation by a job interviewer, "Tell
me about yourself", is tantamount to. or the subtext of, asking,
"Why should I hire you?"
The third phase of a career transition process (following assessment
and options exploration) which is designed to get you to where you
want to be: organizing a campaign of letters, resumes, one-page
bios (better than resume if changing career direction), interview
practice, negotiations, etc.
The "opposite" of a job interview, in which you interview an individual
(a target) whose name you obtained through a credible intermediary.
The target works at a job or career that you think you might like
to know more about before you decide to pursue this potential career
direction. Ideally, you'd like the target to tell you: how she got
the job; what she likes and doesn't like about the job; who else
does similar work whom you could contact.
A job interview is a dialogue (not a KGB interrogation) that leads
to one decision by the candidate (you), and one decision by the
interviewer (the hiring decision-maker). This dialogue allows you
to find out more about the job's opportunities, specifications,
and environment. Before the job interview, research the organization
fully so that you have intelligent questions to ask, which become
the basis for a dialogue.
Interview questions (difficult)
Prepare candid positive answers to the most difficult job interview
questions, such as: Why are you changing careers/jobs? Why did you
leave your last job? What are your greatest weaknesses? Where do
you want be in five years? Describe a time that you failed?
Job search systems
Formal methods: ads, search firms, resumes, intensely competitive,
easy to send out resumes; ultimately unproductive. Informal methods:
research, investigate, use contacts, unpublished openings, "hidden"
job market, unconventional, private, your initiative, more work
for you, most professional jobs found this way, highly productive.
A career-transition diary or journal capture, preserves, and extends
your detailed thoughts, musings, jottings, ruminations, informational-interview
contacts and ideas, wisdom, and random notions about your contemplated
career transitions. The journal/diary format: prevents your insights
from slipping away; consolidates and incorporates new career ideas,
behaviors, and attitudes.
Embarking on a career transition, or choosing a career, requires
knowledge of oneself, knowledge of the marketplace for one's most
enjoyable skills, and knowledge of the "overlap" between them.
Law of the
Just as nails attract hammers, career problems attract certain career
methods. "Give a boy a hammer and everything he encounters will
Leads are people who you know, or can get to know, who are able
to "amplify" the intelligence within your own brain by "leading"
you to socially and professionally well-connected others, whose
assets, wisdom, and contacts you can mobilize. It's important that
you and your leads share reciprocal interests in common, and that
they do not feel exploited.
Letters and e-mail require a considerable investment of time and
thought since they represent you, who you are, and what mutual interests
you seek to explore. A "contact" letter must exclude a resume or
else the target will assume you are asking for a job, when in fact
you are asking for advice. A "cover" letter includes a resume since
it is sent in response to an ad requesting your resume. A "thank
you? letter should always conclude with the phrase, "I will keep
you informed of my progress", to suggest the possibility of a continuing
List all career-related life choices (college, major, professional
school, first job, second job, etc), the alternatives available
at the time, your rationale used for your actual choice, and finally,
in retrospect how you feel now about your choice made then. You
can now determine if there were patterns than, and going forward
now. Early small career decisions made with imperfect knowledge
then can result in large career errors now.
Marketing oneself ethically and with integrity is one of the bases
for long term career success. Marketing is and exchange of value,
preceded by an understanding of the employers needs and wants, trust
and rapport, and high moral principles. Pressure to acquire your
services must arise naturally from the buyer, and not from the seller.
To understand the buyers needs, you must do detailed research in
advance of any meeting, job or informational meeting. Consequently,
you will be able to ask intelligent questions, and demonstrate your
eagerness to learn more about targets needs.
Very few careers or career transitions occur without worthy role
models, coaches, guides, or mentors, who provide access to appropriate
up-to-date job market information. Having a worthy mentor enhances
a junior persons knowledge of how to navigate effectively in the
professional world of new colleagues and contacts. Mentors provide
sponsorship or reflected power from the senior to the junior person.
Research shows that a substantial majority of successful job/career
changers obtained their employment through personal approaches or
introductions to solicitation to people who know people, role models,
mentors, and contacts of potential employers. See (Networking).
Negotiation is a learnable skill, a process not a event, that can
be done only between equal parties before being hired, but only
after an offer is made.
See Exponential interview.
About 58 % of advanced degree professionals (law, medicine, science,
engineering, architecture, humanities) follow a straight-ahead career
path. About 29 % follow a broad career path, shifting fields slightly
or moving into administration within original career. About 13%
follow a variant or non-traditional career pattern, changing career
directions completely or significantly.
Poor interpersonal skills are leading obstacles to success in making
a career transition. If you have no master plan or ?theory of victory
you can get lost or fail. If you lack energy or optimism, you lack
key ingredients. Depression is a significant obstacle. If you have
difficulty distinguishing between what you know and don't know you
must acquire these distinctions. if you are a product looking of
a market instead of searching for a market that's looking for you,
you will fail.
Occupations are what occupy us.
The ability to change occupations or careers according to us bureau
of labor statistic, about 10 % of the labor total adult workforce
change occupations per year, and about 4 million per month change
jobs or employers.
Optimism is one of the best predictors of success in a career or
career change. To convert justifiable pessimism into learned and
earned optimism requires career change planning and a theory of
career victory. Optimists live longer, have better health than pessimists.
Optimists tend to internalize good things that happen to them and
externalize bad things. Optimists break formidable tasks into specific
The second stage in a career transition when a range of desirable
career options, deduced from an evaluation of ones preferences (see
assessment), lead to reality testing based upon true job marketplace
data, usually gleaned form informational interviewing and contacts.
Par statements are of the form: Problem, Action, Result. That is,
what Problem were you facing at a prior employer; what Action did
you take to solve it; and what the Results, preferably quantitative,
was. These par statements are useful in writing one-page bios or
Persistence is the ability to perceive each rejection as one less
obstacle on the way to an acceptance.
In a study of those with outstanding talent and performance, those
who had pleasing personalities, all other things being equal, were
found to be at the top of their profession ten years later. Those
with unpleasant personalities were found to be next most successful.
Those with no personality or and insipid personality, even thought
at the same original level of talent and performance, were at the
Pessimism has a significant negative impact on career satisfaction, and the ability to change careers. See optimism.
Every interview, whether job or informational improves upon rehearsal
and practice. So does career changing. An old joke has an out-of-towner
coming to New York who asks an old Jewish lady, How do you get to
Carnegie hall? and she answers, practice, practice, practice.
Mentors have protégés, disciples who are star pupils, favorite students
who carry the masters teachings forward, who are and extension of
the mentors ego. Becoming a protégé is a matter of personal chemistry
and elusive obvious.
Another way to demonstrate ones level of interest in a job opportunity
or new career is to ask intelligent questions. This takes practice.
Recruiters are paid by the employer, and thereby represent the employers
best interests. They are assigned by the employer the task of finding
a potential new hire who meets certain very stringent requirements.
If you happen to possess those requirements, you will be sought
after, however, if you seek career guidance from a recruiter, do
not be surprised if you do not receive professional guidance that
is in your best interest.
If you are asked to provide the names of references, before you
provide these, check with the people you wish to use as references
to see precisely what they will say about you, and do not say otherwise
Research is necessary to discover who you are, what's out there
as it pertains to you, and how well you and what's out there will
Resumes are problematical. Resumes tell someone who you are or were,
not who you want to be. Resumes also imply that you are asking for
a job, when in fact you may merely be asking for advice. The resumes
subtext is often: Help me I'm desperate for work. This is not a
great negotiating position.
Changing careers or jobs involve a certain level of risk.
Do you search where the jobs or careers are or where you will be
most satisfied? Or both? Or neither?
Self (-assessment, -confidence, -esteem, -marketing)
Assessment of oneself may be limited by the long-established and
set habits of mind. Seeing oneself clearly is more difficult without
objective standards of measurement.
Shyness may hinder a career change to the extent that social contacts
are avoided. Yet even shy people can learn how to expand their circle
of acquaintances and use techniques similar to networking and exploring
the hidden job market.
Among your total repertoire of skills, identifying your most enjoyable
and transferable skills is essential to a systematic examination
of what the marketplace has to offer--that would make sense for
you, given who you are.
Social competence is the ability to win friends and influence people,
to deploy ones street smarts to make win-win exchanges. People who
are good at this say they are productive and enjoy life.
Each of us has our own definition of success. One man says success
is a lousy teacher; it seduces smart people into thinking they can't
fail. (Bill Gates). Another says that you can wear out a particular
part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it. The tired
parts of the mind can be rested and strengthened by using other
parts (Winston Churchill).
Systematic approaches to career transitions assessment, options
exploration research, implementation have been shown to work for
those who are serious about attempting to change their careers.
Talent is a gift, but one not to be misused. If you think you are
talented, think again. You are better off being a plow horse than
a race horse. Plow horses win the race, like the tortoise beats
the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. Really.
Arrange a meeting with someone who works in a field or organization
that you consider a possible career or job choice. That person is
called a target. Interview that target to discover what they do,
how they like it, who they know you can speak to, and interview
their contacts. See networking, informational interviews.
Picking up the telephone and asking for a meeting or interview is
the cutting edge of any effective job-search or career-transition
campaign. The phone can be your first oral communication with a
contact or potential employer. Good telephone technique is a skill
learned through preparation, rehearsal, and practice.
You can transform your career if you are willing to examine who
you are, to explore the real options available to you, and to organize
a campaign to get where you discover you want to be. See assessment,
options exploration research, implementation.
The more formal training, schooling, and advanced education each
of us receives, the more we are unable to achieve practical results
in mundane but necessary pursuits, and the less versatile we become.
The result is a pervasive decline in broad-band competencies. In
effect, by strengthening one muscle or set of skills, we become
muscle-bound in one set of skills, and enfeebled or atrophied in
other (perhaps more practical or street smart) skills. We need to
understand the anatomy of the atrophied muscles.
These are skills that you may transfer to other careers. Example:
if you enjoy writing briefs, you may enjoy writing novels. Example:
if you enjoy organizing and planning and scheduling a vacation,
you may enjoy managing people and projects. If you enjoy using your
computer to process complex tasks, you may enjoy using your computer
for other projects such as implementing programs. If you enjoy doing
research in one field, you may enjoy it another field.
Get real before you go virtual. Most human communication is non-verbal.
Therefore, you will get further in a networking effort by meeting
face-to-face, than if you communicate by phone or by e-mail.
Values are those human needs, ingredients of work, and qualities
of life that we cherish, such as: collegiality; growth potential;
opportunity to be social useful; intellectual challenge; stimulating
work; control over our work schedule; location of work; compensation;
shared purpose; team work; and so on. We usually rank order these,
with some at very high priority, and others at lower priority. To
enjoy ones career, these priorities must be an integral part of
the career transition equation.
A web is a network of contacts or intimately connected social system.
The World Wide Web is an electronic extension of this social and
Extensible markup language, extensible hypertext markup language.
These systems of computer language allow constant transitions to
and from a given document text or image, to other texts or images,
as the following examples: Network, Contact.
This is the way educated people object to an assertion they find
debatable or disagreeable. Objections may arise because the individual
is trained to be a skeptic (lawyer, doctor, scientist), likes to
debate, or actually learns from the process of disagreeing with
In career transitions, an individual may feel a certain level of
comfort in staying in a future-less job or unpleasant career. The
comfort may be found in a large income, high status, or other benefits
that are difficult to give up: a comfort zone. When the discomfort
overwhelms and when risk appears to be manageable, we can begin
to see how to leave our career comfort zone and move forward.