Tag Archives: “workplace reality”

Career Risk Management Begins Before Your Career Choice

As a child, I heard stories of sadder-but-wiser bargain hunters who drove 100 miles to Toronto from our small town in response to newspaper ads offering new cars at huge savings. Sometimes the advertised vehicle wasn’t available, perhaps never existed. Or everything from the spare tire to the wheel covers was extra. Like the con man, the high-pressure salesperson fought vigorously to “cool out the mark” by redefining the situation. If that is done skillfully, the customer will purchase a vehicle from the same dealer that tricked him, even paying close to the same price as was offered by the dealer back home. Even worse, now he has to go to that dealer for service, with the big-city dealer’s sticker on the trunk lid.

Career Bait and Switch

What A Social Worker Really Does

My social worker friend spends 60% of his time satisfying ever-increasing requirements for documentation of the work he does is in the other 40%. It’s not just that he resents not getting to do more of the kind of social work that initially attracted him to the profession. It’s also that he, like many people whose passion for helping others and giftedness is suited to social work, strongly dislike the nature of the documentation duties and resent the emphasis those duties have in performance evaluation. It can feel like somebody did a “bait and switch”, when the nature of your daily duties differs radically from the expectations you had when you were first attracted to their profession. By the way, I realize that the load of paperwork is only one issue frustrating social workers today but it does feature prominently in the accompanying photo.

Did anyone really do a “bait and switch” by providing distorted or incomplete information about careers? Yes. Educational institutions at all levels have a vested interest in attracting top students to their programs and are now often partnered with professional organizations that need to add new members. Objective information can be difficult to find. The career risk is entirely borne by you. So it’s your job to manage it.

To be sure, you need to accept some of the blame for your conclusions. Most adults realize that no job is without unpleasant elements but without careful research that awareness remains vague. You can’t accurately assess how much those elements will bother you 5 or 15 years from now if they remain vague. Most of us don’t research our careers very carefully. The head of career services at a local university told my career counselling class that most students spend more time planning their spring break than choosing a career. Sometimes, like the car shopper, we fall in love with our mental image of the anticipated future and we don’t want dis-confirming evidence.

To manage this aspect of career risk, thoroughly investigate any line of work that requires extended preparation before you actually get to practice. To avoid “bait and switch”, arrange multiple information interviews with people in the field. Don’t just ask them for advice on how to become an accountant or social worker or nurse. Find out what aspects of the job other people really enjoy, what they really dislike and pay careful attention to those answers. Find examples of people in your chosen field whose temperaments similar to yours. If you can’t find any, that might be a red flag? (In job interviews, ask them to describe someone who was outstanding in the position and someone who really wasn’t cut out for the job. Make good notes of their answer! Ask yourself whether those less desirable aspects of the job will make your life miserable or even sabotage your performance. Most of us will have several careers over a working life. We need to become proficient at choosing our work, one key component of managing career risk, as well as performing our chosen work.

However, what I learned from Tilda Shalof is that we can be exactly in the profession where we belong but find aspects of our work that we don’t do particularly well and/or we strongly dislike. Those aspects can distract us, but they don’t have to if we choose otherwise.

Source of photo: http://i.fra.bz/1vq0