Archive for July, 2010

Most Critical Career Skill – Trend Spotting

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

“In this era of accelerating change, knowledge alone is no longer the key to a prosperous life. Trend Spotting, or Foresight is the critical skill. Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to navigate change, make good decisions, and take action now to create a better future.” From the World Future Society’s Forecasts for the Next 25 Years

This doesn’t mean to quit school or drop your courses.  It means to take your knowledge and put it into context with other things that are going on in the world, right now, to spot new opportunities and potential problems you can help resolve.

1. Scan the environment by reading various media and looking for trends – government, economy, environment, demographics, education, and other areas that you may not usually associate with your knowledge base.

2. Consider the potential impact of those trends on your profession and lifestyle.

3. Play around with some scenarios and simulations – in your head or on the web.

Whole new industries are created this way. Think about the industries and jobs that didn’t exist 20, or even 10 years ago, such as  App writers.  Our dynamic demographics are creating new opportunities in not only health care, but in housing, transportation, education and leisure activities to name a few.  What skills and knowledge do you have to address some of these issues.

This is how you can make a difference.  Exercising your foresight is a way to show your value to your existing or potential employer….or even starting your own organization.

Raised by Wolves

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

That phrase has become an ear-worm for me recently.  It generally refers to someone who has misbehaved in a social or work setting.  I recently read a book about how our bosses sometimes act like they were raised by wolves.  At first I took issue  defending the wolves.  Their system works for them…because they live in a different society than we do.

Yet, the author makes some interesting observations of the alpha wolf behaviors. “Because you are exposed to your boss every day, it is possible that you have become accustomed to his or her wolf-like behavior. “

What is important is to effectively manage your boss, based on whatever wolf-like tendencies are shown, so you both win. The wolf pack is governed by a hierarchy of power and aggression. Know your place in the pack and the interdependent relationships. Bosses want you to understand what has to be done, what your role is in doing it, and are self-starters. It is only then that the leader feels truly comfortable in working with his staff member as a partner and collaborator.

My muse posed the question about the mythical Romulus and Remus.  Were they raised by the She-wolf as her pups, or for food?

Volunteerism and Career-Building

Monday, July 12th, 2010
While you are looking for a job, or while you are working full-time, stay off the couch and do something for others. Volunteering improves your career.  Here are the stats:
According to CareerBuilder, 63% of hiring managers said that volunteer work is relevant experience when it comes to evaluating a candidate. And according to a study done in the UK, 73% of employers would employ a candidate with volunteering experience over one without. When it comes to internships, employers offered jobs to 70% of their interns according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
What is it that makes a Volunteer attractive to an employer?  We give of ourselves to others without expecting anything in return.  We often do things as a volunteer that we don’t get paid to do at work, so we are using other skills or learning new ones.  We generally volunteer to work with groups or on projects that bring us a sense of satisfaction.
Some of use a volunteer opportunity to try out or demonstrate our skills in organizing, fund-raising, cat-herding (leading), etc.
Why do you volunteer?
What have you learned through volunteering you were able to take into your work?

Disengaged in the Middle

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Managers have an on-going challenge to see that their staff are working to their optimum – doing interesting, challenging and things that engage many of their skills. The recent Gallup Journal  article shows  that the “Frustrating Forties” is a time when we’ve past learning the ropes and often aren’t getting much professional development. Not surprisingly, the trend of disengagement with this age group is  higher  for service workers performing routinized tasks.

An IRS report recently showed that IRS employees most likely to sneak a peek at a tax return other than their own have 10-15 years of experience. So it’s not like they didn’t know it was illegal.  The consequence of looking at their favorite celebrity, neighbor or ex- just didn’t seem to bother them.  “No one gets fired in the federal government.”

The aging process also influences how employees view their work, as demonstrated by psychologists’ findings that life goals and motivational factors tend to shift as people grow older. And as a multitude of career switchers can attest, midlife is a time when many people reevaluate their goals and make changes accordingly.

Managers must continually talk with staff to avoid career ‘ruts.’ Remember that what is important to you isn’t necessarily valued by others. Check in. You don’t know if you don’t ask.