Posts Tagged success

What we should be teaching in interview training

Every now and again during interview coaching, I will stop and ask the client, “What do you think I’m looking for with that question?”. Having read an article by some organisational psychologists at the University of Zurich (Kleinmann et al., 2011), I’m going to ask that question a lot more.

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Positive Aspirations

I would like to thank Vinny Potter from Queen Mary, University of London for contributing this post — David
Spire by Gerry Balding

A spire... (I'll get my coat)

I work in two distinct careers settings. One is with high-achieving students at the University of London and the other is with clients who often have few qualifications (if any) at a small job club where I volunteer in the evenings.

At the job club we try hard to engage with NEETs (those Not in Education, Employment or Training). We have limited success. The biggest issue I have found with this group is not their low economic status nor lack of decent qualifications, but a major lack of aspiration.

There have been quite a few studies into the link between achievement and aspiration. One of the latest has come from researchers at Queen Mary University of London (Rothon et al., 2011) and it demonstrates a clear association between aspiration and achievement.

educational aspirations had a strong association with actual achievement, remaining associated even after controlling for a number of other variables, including prior achievement

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What does success mean to you?

You will be successful in everything - ooops!

In this post, I’m doggedly continuing my pursuit to explore the idea of career success.

We started with a simple binary distinction: objective success versus subjective success. We realised that this was somewhat crude and that a bit more subtlety might be useful.

In the previous post, we added an extra dimension about how you might measure success (self-referent versus other-referent comparison).

Now it’s time to take things multidimensional!

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More success

Success

...or not

Do we need more sophisticated definitions of career success?

Although I have got a lot of mileage out of the journal article I wrote about in my last post —  I’ve dropped snippets from it into a few talks and workshops lately — there is something very limiting about the ideas of career success used within it.

Meta-analyses are good for getting a broad overview of  a subject but they tend to erode the subtle distinctions that are present in an issue as complex as career success.

Are pay, promotion and job satisfaction the only ways of measuring career success?

Lorna Dargan’s comment highlighted another aspect of success and this led me to hunt out other definitions and conceptualisations.

So, let us attempt to restore some granularity to our understanding of this topic. Our first stop is an article published in the same year as Ng et al.

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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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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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Putting it off

Procrastination by Lady Day DreamWhy have I left it so long  between the last posting and this one?

Partly, of course, there was the Christmas break. Too many things to do (and besides, who is going to read this blog in preference to spending precious festive time with their loved ones?).

Oh, and then there was that workshop on Time Management that I had to prepare (I really didn’t have time to do it before now, honestly). And I had to have a few breaks in order to catch up on my LoveFilm DVDs (I’ve got to get my money’s worth). And setting up the new Kindle on our WiFi took much longer than I anticipated.

And then I have to own up to the excessive amount of time I spent trying to beat the backgammon game on my phone (I’m sure it cheats!).

OK. I admit it. I’ve been putting it off.

Let’s say the word together: PROCRASTINATION.

It’s not just me, and it’s not just about writing blog posts. Whether it’s a student putting off their visit to the careers office until the last week of their final year or the dissatisfied worker who never gets round to changing their career, the ‘I’ll do it later’ attitude prevents many people from engaging with career development tasks.

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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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Anticipation versus consummation

Sailing and a Key West Sunset by Asten

If you dream it will be plain sailing, you may never set off

In a recent post (What might have been), I discussed a way of looking back to the past called counterfactual thinking. In this post, I would like to start exploring the ways in which we look forward into the future and some of the pitfalls involved in that activity.

Being able to speculate about and imagine the future is an essential part of decision making and it should be an area of interest for anyone involved in supporting other people to make decisions.

However, the way we go about that speculation may have a profound impact on our ability to bring that future into existence.

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