Master Career Counselor

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor (MCC) by the National Career Development Association and a Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is an expert in writing resumes, effective job search strategies and interviewing success. Most recently, with over 20 years of navigating the complexity of today's world of work, she published "Finding Your Place in the World of Work", a career interest inventory (2014) and CareerView, an iPad app. As a private practice career counselor and a workforce development consultant, this blog is Carla's trove of ideas, trends, forecasts, and career tips for finding meaningful work.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where are the birds like me?

So much of the joy, reward and meaning of work is not solely found in what we do. It is also discovered quickly in whom we do it with. I have seen many clients over the years in a desperate migratory journey trying to find happiness at work when in fact it wasn't the work itself. Rather, a co-worker, colleague or boss seemed to make life on the job completely intolerable.

Take Jane for example. She chose occupational therapy in college because her dad commented that it is a 21st century hot career. She excelled academically in the sciences, but upon the clinical phase of her work, discovered a huge disconnect with her colleagues and patients. "No one seems to like me or even speak to me. My co-workers act like a high school clique and my patients are rude and condescending. They won't follow my directions even though I am matter of fact and concise. This work makes me feel incompetent. "

Take David as another example. He chose to be an attorney because of its seeming prestige in the community. He breezed through law school but could never develop a successful private practice upon graduation. His first hints of disppointment were in law school when he didn't seem to fit with classmates. He preferred being alone and likely appeared aloof. He hated working at the firm and despised what he perceived as office politics. He never once joined in for after hours get togethers, parties or social events seeing them all as a waste of time. He couldn't understand how he could excel academically, but fail misearably on the job. " I can't understand why this career is so horrible. I have constant anxiety and a recurring ulcer. I don't fit in with everyone else. No one in the firm seems to be like me."

What do Jane and David have in common?

Here are some lessons they've learned the hard way:

1. Career satisfaction is a broad spectrum of variables you cannot control such as the people who work alongside you. An awesome career can be ruined by a horrible boss or co-worker.
2. A third of life is spent at work. Why spend it in misery at a place or point in your life where you don't fit now or perhaps never fit at all? Academic success doesn't predict a sustainable, enjoyable and meaningful career.
3. A person can excel at the employability skills taught by professors or academic courses but not have similar interest patterns and values of colleagues that increase or decrease satisfaction in the workplace.

How is satisfaction attainable in the workplace you ask?

Well, let's just lay it on the line. It is all about our feathers, beak and migratory habits.

We ALL have a need and even longing to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes that plays out for some of us in a group. For some, it means being left alone with uninterrupted time and concentration. We need meaning and a sense of value. The more time spent with colleagues sharing similar beliefs and ideals the more we sense inside ourselves that we "fit" within the ranks of a profession.

For me, this collaboration and sense of identity corresponds to a goose flying in a "V" formation. Sometimes, I want to lead the charge for a new and updated theory or scope of practice that pushes the limit of tested knowledge. I will honk and quack until everyone is on the same page. Then there are moments when my wings are tired and I fall back in a set formation following the wind gusts and air lifts until energy is restored.

After all, geese are all about belonging to a flock. They're group oriented and even roost together in lifetime pairs.

All of this to say that as an identifiable goose, I know not to waste energy trying to eat out of a hummingbird feeder. I'm a bird with wings and a beak but I don't flit very well. I am not fast and speedy. I appreciate landing on a supportive device for long periods of time. I'm also not typically territorial and won't fight for the food unless irrationally provoked.

There are stark differences in people just as there are among the avian species. What species of bird best represents you? Are you a hawk? An eagle? A robin? A cardinal?

Whatever variety, the critical issue is to receive the validation of other birds like you and to appreciate the differences in those who aren't. Do you know at this moment, where birds like you are flying? Where have they set up the roost and you are missing the action?

1 comment:

  1. Jane and David were birds that never joined the flock in the work force. At some point you must find your place in the workplace as part of the team. I am the Americam Eagle a strong bird with the desire to prove I can be an effective worker. In todays economy employers are wanting people who bring skills to the workplace that enhance the business growth and elinates wastes and brings in new ideas. They are looking for change new technology, contacts, and you need to be able to tell them why they should hire you. As an Eagle I should be hired because my plan can improve their sales 50% over the next two years by implementing the Ronnie's (super program). Lastly all birds must communicate in future we are not at war. Networking jobs for the baby boomers are through internet, causal conversation, and shopping at mall Most jobs will be part- time. Bottom line never let a boss get you down they are not worth losing your job work around them. Most bosses will need your help.