Are you looking for a job or a career?
This is not some glib throw away line. It is the question of a lifetime. Are you looking for a career or will you be satisfied, will you settle for a job?
From my perch, a career is about achieving a professional career goal — for example running a Fortune 100 company or being a member of the C-suite. It is about climbing the career ladder and, in the end, being handsomely rewarded for doing a job you have always wanted. On the job side, you secure employment doing something you enjoy that can be financially rewarding, but at the end of the day it is the means to an end — it is all about paying the rent, supporting the family and socking some away for retirement. Or maybe even buying that boat you have always wanted or purchasing the weekend cabin in the woods. If the job goes away, fine, get another one, hopefully without moving.
There are certainly those who will argue that you can have a career stringing together a series of jobs. I agree. But if you are a married executive who is a rising star in a multi-national corporation and whose spouse’s job is geographically specific and is quite happy and who does not want a move — well, before you know it you are back to the job or career question.
It is amazing how many couples never deal with this question before they marry. Balancing professional goals is not a serious radar issue. Then the career trajectory of one half of the relationship begins to take off. Their work is valued, they are promoted and then one day the dreaded meeting happens: they are told the corporation wants to promote them. The promotion, with a big new shiny title and huge pay increase with a great benefits package and stock, will require a relocation. The other half of the relationship does not want to move and leave a great job behind, doing work they do exceptionally well. It is work that is not transferable.
So that tough career management question comes into play: will you be satisfied with a job or do you want a career?
People starting their careers, or professionals who are starting over in a relationship, should take the time to have this important conversation. If you don’t there may some uncomfortable or disappointing consequences down the road.
Yes, you can have a so-called career with a series of jobs that pay the bills and provides for retirement but if, deep down, you aspire to achieve a lofty goal in corporate life then several relocations will probably be part of the formula.
Dreams are important. For both people. Talk this out before the big meeting occurs.
© 2016 John Gregory Self
Candidates say telephone interviews are one of the toughest parts of the job interview process. Today, John provides five tips to help you to be better prepared.
© 2016 John Gregory Self
Editor’s Note: John is taking the day off to prepare for Chief Executive Officer candidate interviews in Dallas and Kansas City. This post was originally published on Friday, September 6, 2013.
Over the past 20 years I have spent a lot of time with early careerists, hundreds of freshly minted graduate school would-be senior executives. They all think they know where they are going but the vast majority do not know how to get there so they ask for help with their resume, career management strategy or both.
Whenever possible I have tried to look at their resumes, to offer some suggestions and recommend that they keep a career journal, stay active in the American College of Healthcare Executives and to stay in touch with us, updating job changes and contact information. We even created an early careerist database to help track these promising young executives. We saw long-term value for our clients with this approach.
Most, smiling in appreciation for the help and words of encouragement, promise to do all of the above. Less than 2 percent have followed through. Most never call again until they lose their job and want me to help them find their next gig.
Regrettably, we gave up on promoting the young careerist database because these young executives failed to stay in touch with us. Over time, the contact information on the vast majority of the contacts became of out of date. A database record with an old resume of is of no value if we can’t find the individual.
Here is a tip: Recruiters like me as well as the corporate types work for the client, not someone who we do not remember ever meeting because they did not stay in touch. Here is a question: Why would you ignore an invitation from a recruiter to stay connected — you never thought you ever leave your first employer? Really?
Lest you think this is a huffy blog about scorned love, think again. It is not just my firm that has experienced this lack of follow through. My search colleagues, those who actually volunteer their time to help young professionals of whom they cannot profit in the short term, have had the same experience. Offers of help and an open door to stay in touch only to delete dozens upon dozens of names from their database every year because the contact information was not up to date.
Now here is the irony. One of the most common questions asked in career management seminars is, how do you build a relationship with a recruiter? Moreover, one of the biggest complaints outplacement consultants hear is that recruiters do not return their calls.
You may not like the answers but here they are:
1. If you want to develop a relationship with recruiters — yes, one is never enough — you cannot start when you lose your job. It takes time. Recruiters are very busy — especially in this pre-transformation environment. Everyone wants a piece of our time. If we took every call from a newly out-of-work executives, our client service would plummet.
3. Keep a career journal — dates of employment, notes on career counseling sessions with your boss or mentor, performance evaluations and salary increases. This information will be invaluable in helping you rebuild your resume if you ever lose the one you had — and most people do, especially when they are long-term employees. It will also help you fine tune your value proposition. This is critically important for successful career management. Most candidates struggle to tell their story in a way that connects the needs of the client/employer with their strengths, skills and quantifiable accomplishments. Why? Because they think they will remember the important stuff in their careers, the details of their accomplishments, but most do not.
When I was an up and comer, the offers of support were few and far between but I did not let it bother me because I did not know what I did not know. I suffered from the youthful phenomenon of being “off the chain,” full of myself. Over time, I learned the essential importance of building a solid career network, including recruiters, and investing the time in nurturing that group.
So if you are like I used to be, here is the final hot flash for this post: There will be far more aspiring healthcare leaders than there will be jobs, a rather new trend in an industry with a history of job security.
Now is the least embarrassing time to correct the error of your networking ways.
© 2016 John Gregory Self