Consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker once stated; “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Both can be said about the career development process. A recent Society of Human Resource Development (SHRM) job satisfaction study found 81% of Americans reporting overall dissatisfaction with their present employment. That means one in five working Americans state openly they don’t like what they’re doing or haven’t achieved the level of career satisfaction and success they desire.
Often an individual’s career development is fraught with errors and omissions---the things we “do wrong” and the “things we don’t do” in our quest for satisfaction. Professional recruiters can light pathways throughout the lifespan that result in personal awareness, knowledge and skill acquisition, decision-making competence and the application of strategies for career identification, entrance, growth, and mobility. Recruiters, in effect, can be important facilitators of career development.
Career errors and omissions can be traced to identifiable and controllable behaviors---things one needs to monitor and manage to ensure their personal career development needs are being met. In my book, Career Errors: Straight Talk about the Steps and Missteps of Career Development (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2014), I present 25 errors that people make across their lifespan, from career entry to exit. Individually or collectively these errors can have a negative impact on career satisfaction and success. Following are six of the most common and controllable errors exhibited by career seekers and changers:
They don’t understand the career development process – The process is their GPS or personal life map. To know where one is going she or he needs to know where they are and have been in their personal growth and development.
They lack quality information – Effective job seeking and career change each require accurate, current and reliable information. One’s personal antenna must be capable of picking up the new and trending data that will impact their work.
They exhibit faulty behaviors (e.g., interview skills, social media uses, etc.) and are working with inferior tools (e.g., resumes, cover letters, etc.). Unproductive behaviors and ineffective tools represent a recipe for disaster.
They don’t learn from life experiences – Both good and bad decisions can be effective teachers. Is that learning occurring or are the job seekers and career changers just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best?
Their timing is atrocious – Choosing a career, finding a job or growing in one’s career should be planned events that include preparation for, transition into, movement about and evaluation of a variety of career events. Rushing them put the results in jeopardy.
They lack flexibility and adaptability – Job seekers and changers must possess both proactive and reactive behaviors and be able to summons the right action at the appropriate time.
Any of the above and any number of other errors can derail the hardest working and best intentioned individual. Each represents an area where competent professional recruiters and placement consultants can facilitate the career development process.
Practicing correct and complete career behaviors will not always guarantee positive results, but at least the individual will have addressed the things they can control. Errors, however, will never disappear. Albert Einstein once said; “A person who never made a mistake ---never tried anything new.” Many of the errors people will make or have already made will become their best teachers.
Looking back at Drucker’s thesis, career satisfaction and success require equal doses of management and leadership attention. Professional recruiters stand ready to assist in that quest.