Posts Tagged Employability

Five employability mindsets

the five platonic solids by Johnson Cameraface

Which shape represents which mindset?

As I have just started teaching on the Chartered Management Institute Level 5 Diploma at the University of London, I thought it would be sensible to continue my recent activity of applying management theories and models to the world of careers coaching.

Most of the early conversations about employability and career management tended to focus on asking the question ‘How do you help students to develop skills or competencies that will make them effective in the job market?’. There tend to emerge two types of answer to this question: you give them training or you give them experience.

This mirrors the argument that has been running in the area of leadership development for a long time. There are those who argue that training without experience is too abstract (and therefore worthless) and there are those who argue that experience without training is random (and therefore worthless).

A slightly different perspective that seems to be emerging lately is that training, experience and combinations of training and experience tend to be more effective when participants have greater levels of self-awareness or when the training or experience itself promotes greater self-awareness.

One aspect of self-awareness that interests me is awareness of one’s own default mindset. Partly because of my interest in MBTI, I am conscious of the various ways in which different people approach the same problems. That’s why I was excited to come across a management model called the Five Managerial Mindsets.

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What is our output?

Audio by Sergiu Bacioiu

So, do your dials go up to 11?

I’ve been having some very interesting conversations lately on LinkedIn groups.

In one discussion, a Canadian career service manager described how his team had been increasingly using the term ‘career literacy’ to describe what they were trying to develop in their students. He asked what we thought of the term.

Part of me really likes the idea of literacy as a set of skills that enables you to interact with information. According to the UNESCO definition, literacy involves “a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society“. That fits rather well with the aims of a careers service.

My reservation with the term is that, in a university setting, literacy could be interpreted as rather a basic level of learning. By the time students have reached university, they should have gone beyond literacy and be operating in the realm of analysis and critical thinking. Would it have face value with the academic community?

So, what other terms could we use and what would they imply? Can we come up with something which appeals to those who are looking at immediate solutions as well as giving a strong message about developing an ability to deal with issues over the entire course of your career?

This kicked the random word generator in my brain into overdrive and I tried to come up with a range of phrases to describe what we are trying to nurture in our clients.
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Success: what is it and how do you achieve it?

Success

If only I'd realised that success could come so cheaply!

Are you successful in your career?

How do you know?

Traditionally, there are two ways of measuring career success:

  • objective success — externally measurable things such as salary level, number of promotions, etc.
  • subjective success — internal, psychological factors, such as level of career satisfaction, happiness, etc.

These two types of success can sometimes be related, i.e. the more objective success you achieve, the more subjective success you experience. However, they can also be unrelated. So, other people might perceive you as being successful, but you don’t feel it, or you might be really happy in your work even though other people might think you haven’t had much of a career.

Is there a way of predicting what factors lead to objective or subjective career success? Well, lots of researchers have tried to answer that question. Vast numbers of researchers have tried to examine the link between a range of attributes and the likelihood of a good career outcome. That’s far too much reading for me! I’d like someone else to do it for me…

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Purists and players

Man with cards

Somehow, I don't think he's a purist

Is four too much for you?

Last week I presented a few career-style typologies that came in sets of four, but it’s entirely possible that remembering four types might be too much for you — it often is for me.

So, how about just two types: Players and Purists. These two archetypes represent extreme approaches that graduates may take in  managing their employability.

They were identified by Phil Brown and Anthony Hesketh from Lancaster University in their book The MisManagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy.

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Know your type

Four angel bunnies

The angel bunnies resented being put into boxes - but they hid it well

In last week’s post about employability I presented four approaches to employability (Careerist, Ritualist, Rebel and Retreatist).

This got me all enthusiastic about typologies that put people into boxes which describe their approach to career management and decision making. I’ve found a few, but I’m hoping that you can come up with some more for me.

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Employability – attitudes & orientations

Which way are you facing - and why are you standing on one leg?

In the last post I discussed the definitions of employability that had been created by a variety of groups (employers, policy makers and academics). Did you spot the glaring omission?

On the whole, students and graduates don’t tend to go in for definitions of employability; they are too busy trying to live it.

However, Martin Tomlinson from the University of Cardiff conducted interviews with a number of undergraduate students to explore their perspectives.

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Employability viewpoints

Gesu Novo facade

Your viewpoint is everything

In my last posting about the E word I focused on various models of employability (the fun bit in my geeky world!). In this post I wanted to look at some of the various definitions of employability and what those definitions say about the people who construct them.

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Employability: concepts and components

Will work for food

Flexibility - a key component of employability?

I am preparing material for an employability module, and I’ve been getting myself into it by exploring different definitions and concepts of employability.

What is employability?

Coming at that question from a careers adviser’s perspective, I tend, by default, to think about employability in terms of the awareness and attributes of the individual job seeker. So into my head come the career management skills of the classic DOTS model (although, why it’s called DOTS and not SODT escapes me).

  • Self awareness
  • Option awareness
  • Decision learning
  • Transition learning

However, that’s not the only way of looking at employability. I thought it might be useful to share some of the perspectives on this subject that I have found most interesting. This is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review on the subject of employability, just an idiosyncratic collection of things that have caught my attention.

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Boundaries on the boundaryless?

Catbells, Lake District

No boundaries on the way to the top

In the July/August edition of the Harvard Business Review, Monika Hamori writes about research she has been conducting on the career histories of 1,001 US and European chief executives. In the article she seeks to challenge what she claims are a number of  fallacies propagated by career coaches:

  1. ‘Job-hoppers prosper’ — she claims that people whose careers were concentrated within a small number of organisations get to the top jobs more rapidly than those who hop between organisations frequently.
  2. ‘A move should be a move up’ — she claims that lateral moves are as valid and important as promotions in career success.
  3. ‘Big fish swim in big ponds’ — she reports that many successful people have moved between larger, well-known organisations and smaller, less-prominent ones.
  4. ‘Career and industry switchers are penalised’ — she indicates that a significant proportion of successful people have switched industries at some point.

I will avoid commenting on whether these are actually messages that career coaches promulgate (other than to mutter the phrase ‘straw man‘ under my breath). Instead, I will go with my original train of thought when I read the article, which was something like: ‘Is this a mixture of good news and bad news for the boundaryless career?’.

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A qualified success?

A few concepts that I blogged about have been floating round in my head for a while. A recent discussion with a client made them come together.

She was talking about how her educational background in Africa had given her a particular mindset about career success. She explained that in her home country, passing a relevant professional examination pretty much guaranteed an appropriate job. When she came to the UK, it was a great shock to her that just having good qualifications was not enough. She had been surprised at the emphasis placed on demonstrating acceptable personal qualities and the importance of networking. It had taken her quite a while to overcome this mindset, and even now her initial reaction when faced with a career challenge was to think about what training she could obtain.

She was quite surprised when I told her that it wasn’t just people from outside the UK that suffered from this blinkered attitude to employability and career success.

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