If you’re by nature or inclination a disorganized person, the thought of conducting an organized job search or applying organizing principles to your career planning might strike fear into your heart! Okay, so that’s a bit of over-dramatization, but the point is, whether you’re innately drawn to organization or just the opposite, a certain amount of organization is pretty much critical to a successful job search or to smart, long-range career planning.
Just think about those times when your job has worn you to a frazzle, and you wonder how in the world you got into that predicament–and how you’re going to get out of it. Wouldn’t a little advance organization have helped prevent that stressful dilemma?
The same goes for your job search and career planning.
What Does It Take to be Organized?
Out of curiosity, I started looking at job postings for professional home organizers (by the way, the ones I saw didn’t pay wild salaries, but that’s not the point at the moment). As an example, here are several of the key qualifications listed:
- Thrive on finding solutions to complex problems.
- Prepare a customized action plan and timeline for each organizing project.
- Implement organizing processes and customized solutions.
- Ability to work with a variety of personalities.
- Ability to visualize and transform a space.
- Confidence and the ability to take charge.
I’ll bet that if you give it some thought, you can see a way most if not all of these could be applied to your job search and career planning activities. For example, you might not need to “visualize and transform a space,” but you probably do need to “visualize and transform” your job search if you want it to achieve a successful outcome, especially if you’ve been going at it in a more or less haphazard fashion.
Failure to Have an Organized Job Search or Career Planning Process
What are the consequences of not achieving an organized job search or career planning? For starters, as I mentioned above, you could be jeopardizing the possibility of a successful job search–needlessly. That’s a consequence (cost) you don’t want to incur and shouldn’t have to, but it’s up to you to take the actions necessary to avoid it.
Positive alternatives do exist. One way is to get help from someone who is more organized than you feel you are–for instance, either a professional (such as a career coach) or a friend or colleague whose methods you respect. Brainstorm with that person on what you need to do yourself and what you can readily have help with.
Another possibility is to take a class in organizing. No, I’m not being facetious. I haven’t checked specifically, but I suspect there are classes available somewhere (offline or online) to help people become more organized. If time and travel are concerns for you, online might be a good option because it’s more flexible. If you’re the kind of person who does better with personal interaction and group participation, a physical class situation might be better. The main issue in this case is finding a class that you can translate into your professional career needs, rather than one designed to be so specific to physical home organizing that translating it would be difficult at best.
You don’t need to suffer the consequences of failure with regard to having an organized job search or career planning process. Take charge of the process and put in place the techniques you need to have for it to work well.
Relationships don’t just happen–at least, the ones that matter don’t. And in my book, those are the only ones worth spending much time and energy on. Whether it’s in relation to your ongoing career success or to your non-work-related life, you can’t afford to ignore the value and importance of building and nurturing strong relationships. That’s true whether or not they produce any short-term benefits for you personally.
That’s the title of a recent post by Jon Gordon on his blog, which I follow regularly. I can’t reproduce the entire post here, but you can click on the link above and go right to it. Briefly, Gordon explains how a positive relationship with a high school friend led to two television program appearances spaced 9 years apart, even though he had had no contact with the TV producer during the intervening years.
As he states in the blog post, “relationships are everything and you never know which relationships will change the course of your life.” He then goes on to give four pieces of thoughtful advice:
- Don’t chase dollars or success. Decide to make a difference and build meaningful relationships and success will find you.
- Don’t be a networker. Invest in relationships not because you want something but because you want to build something!
- Don’t ignore those who are closest to you. Identify the relationships in your life that need to be stronger and then make a conscious effort to focus on them, make time for them, develop them and invest in them.
- And be nice to everyone. Because you never know.
Selectivity in Building Career Relationships
Now I’m going to say something that might at first glance seem to run counter to Gordon’s wise counsel. You need to practice selectivity in building your career relationships. It’s not that all such relationships have to be calculated for their potential near-term payback. However, it’s a fact that you can’t be all things to all people all the time. That’s humanly impossible. So what are your options?
For one, you can dabble in career relationship-building, splitting yourself into as many “pieces” as possible to touch each relationship frequently but briefly. Alternatively, you can focus on fewer relationships but make sure to give each one careful attention more often and for more meaningful periods of time. I’m a proponent of the latter approach. You might still want to check in more rarely with some of those other relationships, as long as you recognize that they won’t flourish the way the more carefully tended relationships will.
Why Do Relationships Matter?
I believe they matter because we’re stronger and possibly better individuals when we put genuine effort into connecting and staying connected with others–not just by clicking a button on LinkedIn or Facebook, but by investing something of ourselves in the relationship. We might not be completely selfless (saintly), but we don’t have to be self-serving either.
I have clients, for instance, that I first did work for 10, 15 or even 20 years ago, back in the early days of my business. They come back for updates–sometimes several years later–and refer friends, relatives and colleagues to me. They don’t do that just because I’m a good resume writer or career coach, although that’s probably part of it. Mostly I believe they do it because we have established a connection–a relationship–that they value and that they’re happy to share with others.
As Gordon says in his post, “In the end we won’t be measured by our bank account, sales numbers or wins and losses but by the difference we made in people’s lives… and we make a difference through relationships.”
The employment trend for years has been to encourage (urge?) everyone to go for a college degree focused on a non-trades career. In fact, skilled trades stopped being even considered as a career path by many people, and those individuals who did choose such a goal have often been looked-down-on. However, that view could need to change drastically and sooner than you might think.
Should Everyone Target Senior Management?
A recent thread on one of my LinkedIn groups has carried on a lively discussion on the following topic: “Does everyone have to be a professional, manager, or executive? What’s happened to skilled tradespeople and their careers?”
One of my mentors and esteemed colleagues started the discussion with the following comment: “Although I work predominantly with senior-level clients, I’m currently working with a skilled tradesperson….He sent out his resume last Friday and responded to a number of job postings over the weekend. On Monday morning his phone started ringing at 8:05 am and, by the end of the day, he had 8 calls for interviews and 1 offer at over $50K/year!”
Among the many responses was the following post:
“At a recent job fair I asked a bunch of recruiters which jobs in their companies are the hardest to fill; the ones coming up most often: Diesel Mechanic, Plumber, Welder.
“A few weeks later I met with two guidance counselors from local high schools, whose population will largely not be successful at traditional 4-year colleges. However, both counselors told me that most students view technical or community colleges as beneath them. What a terrible disconnect!”
Can We Manage Our Lives Without These People?
How often do you need the services of a plumber, an electrician, a locksmith, an auto repairman, etc.? What happens if you can’t get one?
In the group thread mentioned above, a link was provided to a thought-provoking presentation made to a Senate committee by Mike Rowe (of “Dirty Jobs” TV fame). I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to read it. Even though it was given a couple of years ago, it’s just as relevant today–and just as disturbing in light of the fact that not enough has changed since then. I can’t include all of it here, but the following will give you some points to consider:
“Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The Skills Gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They’re retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them.
“Alabama’s not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn’t a lack of funds. It wasn’t a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders.
“In general, we’re surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn’t be. We’ve pretty much guaranteed it.
“In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of “higher education” to such a lofty perch, that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled “alternative.”
My business involves working extensively with senior managers and executives. It’s possible that most of the individuals who are in skilled trades don’t earn enough to pay a professional resume writer or career coach for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve help and respect. I’m no good at fixing my own car, installing electrical circuits or fixing a drainage problem underneath my house–just to mention a few things that aren’t in my skill set. I depend on people like them for that.
Maybe it’s time to think seriously about the idea that “not everyone needs to be an executive.”