Too many people make their career decisions as if they were choosing from a menu. They mistakenly think that what is listed on the menu is the only food available. Menus make ordering more manageable for the kitchen staff by restricting selections. Better to know what you’re hungy for, look for it on the menu, or request it if it’s not listed. You may even choose to prepare it yourself!
Likewise with jobs and careers: Give up the limiting minset that the only options are those posted on websites, suggested by family and friends, or handled by recruiters. Forget the “menu mindset” when it comes to your career. Read on for an example.
Tom, thirty-eight, returned with his wife and infant daughter to St. Louis after his life-altering decision to leave the ministry. His wife took a teaching job, and Tom began graduate school, pursuing a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development. His work as a minister drew on broad skills including human resources, but he wanted to build experience and skills in a corporate setting while still in school. Tom grew very interested in creativity, and he read voraciously to learn more about it. An internship opportunity with creativity as its focus was his first goal.
Tom placed a small ad in the local American Society for Training and Development monthly newsletter stating his interest in a human resources internship focused on creativity. He was clear about his desire for an internship with the possibility of hiring at its conclusion, and he was prepared to do an unpaid one if necessary. However, the response to his ad was stronger than he expected, and he was able to negotiate a paid internship at a behavioral healthcare management company.
Four months after beginning his instructional design internship, Tom was offered a full-time job as an Instructional Designer at the company. The pay wasn’t spectacular, but it was a corporate job, with benefits, in his field. Tom and his wife, Beth, were expecting their second child, and this opportunity would allow him to work and Beth to take a break from her teaching job to be home with their children.
Next, Tom reviewed and updated his goals in this job: to develop skills that could be used in computer-based training. He sought work assignments and training to build those skills. In the successive three-and-a-half years, Tom was promoted to Training Specialist and then to Senior Training Specialist.
During this time the company was part of a merger and an acquisition. Tom prepared for the possibility of the phase-out of his unit and began a new job search. After several months of interviewing, Tom landed a new job as a Corporate Trainer for a national manufacturing company. He earned a 30% pay increase, has a shorter commute, and continues to expand his skills and to diversity his industry experience.
Tom didn’t wait for the opportunity he wanted to show up “on the menu.” He defined and pursued it. At the beginning Tom was tempted to let go of his goal and just “get something” that would mean a paycheck and benefits. He modified his initial objective of an internship about creativity, but never abandoned his goal of building skills and gaining experience. It required cooperation between Tom and Beth as they took turns being breadwinners, and in keeping expenditure down when Tom’s earnings were lower.
There were no “daily specials” on the menu for a former minister interested in human resources. Tom determined what he wanted and needed to begin the transition to coporate life; he sought it out, persisted, and eventually accomplished his goal. Now he is learning his new job and setting new goals.
Greg Rohde, Diane Castro,
Charlie Scarlett, and Dan Shea
In each newsletter issue I recommend a career resource. The resource may be a website, book, local group, or meeting.
This issue’s resource is GoNetwork!
It is recent local program designed to promote career, personal, and educational growth. Emerging as a community-based response to increasing numbers of laid-off professionals, its free weekly meetings and resources on- and offline are worth checking out.
Note: Online videos of many of the speakers’ presentations can be seen by clicking on the “News” tab and then scrolling through past presentations to click on the video link.
Consider a CAP (Career Action Planning) Session if you:
- Feel stuck or stalled in your career
- Are worried about a layoff
- Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
- Have been looking for work but not getting results
In this 90-120 minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it. Contact me for more information.
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If you have a topic you’d like me to address in the newsletter or on my blog, just let me know by contacting me. I’ll give you my best, informed advice.
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