Do you feel like an imposter

Imposter syndrome: the mysterious curse of successful people

I have a friend who is highly successful in his field. He doesn’t seem aware that he has done well for himself. High grades through school, scholarships, placements, and he’s now in a very prestigious job. None of it seems to matter to him. It’s not that he doesn’t value what he has, it just that he still doesn’t think it’s as much of an achievement that everyone else thinks it is.

The other day I realised why this could be. None of his achievements are his own.

Have you ever found yourself in that situation? You’re being told you’re good at your work, but you’re not sure? Perhaps you wonder if you really belong there.

Imposter syndrome

It’s common for successful people to feel as though they don’t deserve to be where they are. Part of it comes from a competitive environment, but it also comes from the feeling of control. Sometimes we feel as though we aren’t in control of our our lives and it’s a negative feeling about negative situations. The car broke down, your colleague got the day off you both asked for, the dog puked on your bed. You have no control and it’s all just rotten. But it is possible to have the same uncomfortable feeling when things are going well, such as promotions, networking opportunities or free gifts. It not the actual outcome that’s making you feel uncomfortable. It’s the obligation that you never asked for. It’s still a feeling of not being in control.

In the case of my friend, he was naturally good at schoolwork. All his school-related decisions were made by his teachers. When school was finishing he didn’t choose something he was passionate about. He let the course choose him by offering a scholarship. His excellent grades got him a good job placement, which lead to good jobs but these jobs were orchestrated by his network and colleagues rather than by himself. By 30 years old he managed to get to the top of his field without the feeling personally achieving anything. He was missing the sense of accomplishment.

Resetting your confidence

You can fix this feeling without giving up everything you’ve earned (even if you don’t feel as though you’ve earned it). All you need to do is change one thing. It could be your job, if you want. But it could also be a change of hobby, a new routine or even a new wardrobe. Find one simple thing that is your decision and own it. It will build your confidence and calm your nerves to know that there is at least one thing in your life that is entirely your own doing.

But guess what? He’s just gotten a new job. Same industry, different role. It includes travel. Everything will be new and he’s experiencing a new feeling – control of one’s own destiny.

It’s never too late to experience something new. Is something stopping you from taking a chance and making a change?

What career coaches do

What a career coach does (and doesn’t) do

This week, I met with a career coach. Even though I had met her before, I was nervous. I’m coming to the end of a contract and I’m not sure where to go next. Is it time for a pre mid-life career change? Should I look for a cushy job that will give me a good work-life balance? What do I really want? It was time to meet my career coach!

What does a career coach do?

Meeting with a good coach is truly inspirational. You might come out of a meeting with a coach feeling pumped and confident. Or you might come out a bit confused, wondering if you got what you wanted. But as you think more about it you will realised that your coach (if they are a good one) has planted some fresh ideas in your mind. You just need to decide what to do with them.

A coach won’t give a lot of straight answers

At first you might feel concerned that your questions weren’t answered, but you quickly realised that the only unanswered questions were ones that had no answer. A career coach can’t tell you what job will make you happy. But a good one will help you work out what you enjoy about certain roles and give you guidance on how to keep moving in that direction.

A coach will ask more questions than they will answer

When meeting with a coach you should have a few questions prepared, but be ready for a lot of questions back! The purpose of a coach is to help you make your own decisions in a sensibly considered and logical way.

You might say that you want more responsibility but you don’t want to be a manager. A Coach might ask why do you want more responsibility? What type of responsibility? Why not managerial responsibility? Would you only consider additional responsibilities in your current work area? And only for a pay rise? Would you consider getting the experience of additional responsibility outside of your organisation? What about in a voluntary capacity?

Get ready for a grilling: coaches are very good at making you realised just how much you HAVEN’T thought of!

A coach will challenge your assumptions

You will plan for this meeting. You will have some questions to ask and you will have an idea of what you want from the meeting and where you think your career is (or should be) heading. Don’t grasp to tightly to those ideas. A coach will question you, pose alternatives and soon you will wonder if your thinking has been off-track. Don’t worry. Any thought that you put into your career is not wasted. A coach will help you identify where your thinking gets stuck and help you widen your perspectives as well as your career options.

 

If you’ve met a good coach before you would know all this already! Have you met with a career coach before? How did they help you? How would you prepare next time?

 

Image: Worak – Attack (by), CC-BY 2.0

Could La La Land help your career?

How watching La La Land could help your career (spoilers)

 

Boy-meets-girl, both meet career expectations.

This is not another review about how La La Land is a nostalgic escape from the political turmoil of the day. Nor is it about how the film is a saccharine example of why the world is so polarised. The movie is both of those things. This article is about La La Land as a different genre: a feature-length infotainment production about career progression in a competitive job market.

If you don’t want spoilers…

What you should know: It’s a pleasant movie with a secondary storyline about romance. It’s not about romance. That doesn’t mean that it’s not romantic, but it has more than one definition of romance. Now, stop reading because the spoilers are coming.

If you’ve already seen it, or you don’t care about spoilers, read on…

This is a playful movie about how to be good at networking. Read this version of the synopsis and tell me I’m wrong:

La La Land is about two people in the same industry trying to rise up the career ladder. Promotions elude them because of their poor attitudes, which causes friction within their networks. The girl learns to focus on positive-thinking and skill development. The boy learns about grief management techniques and goal setting. Both are able to achieve their professional goals, but the audience is able to see that if they had not been so negative during their networking activities, they would have reached their career goals faster and experienced smoother personal lives as well.

Lessons from La La Land

The main theme of the movie is networking. Whatever your goals are, if your interactions with others are positive, your life will move in the direction you want it to move. When Mia and her friends sing “Someone In The Crowd”, they may have well all been recruitment consultants. The message (somewhat lost in their desperation) was about nurturing positive relationships. Even outside of the entertainment industry, this is a good lesson. Actually, La La Land has a lot of good lessons.

Lesson 1: It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know and how you treat them

Have you ever had a job that you didn’t care about? You did the minimum amount of work, maybe you turned up late a lot. You didn’t put in much effort because you knew you wouldn’t be staying there for long. So what happened when you were ready to leave? You didn’t have a good referee because nobody wanted to vouch for you. You didn’t care about their job, why would they care about yours now that you’re leaving? But it’s not just your relationships with known connections that could be affected. You never know who is going to be a useful connection, so don’t burn your bridges.

Lesson 2: Sacrifice is not the answer

As discussed before, sacrifice is stupid. If you lie to someone to make them or someone else happy, you will hurt someone. If your personality, beliefs, passion and soul all align and then you give up who you are for someone else, you’ll both end up miserable. You’ll get stuck in a sacrifice circle until one of you breaks. That’s not fun. But if you are positive and stay true to who you are, you’ll get wherever you are headed faster and it will be an easier ride.

Lesson 3: It’s not too late to change your career trajectory

Feel like you have stalled, think about what you can do about it. Could you get some extra training, maybe a free online course or a via a local meet-up? Could you attend some networking events, and if you already do are you developing meaningful connections? Have you actually identified your goals so you know exactly what you are working towards and why?

Lesson 4: Your vision of success can change and you can still be happy

Don’t adjust your vision to fit your resources. Identify your vision and adjust your resources to fit. What did Mia truly want from her career? She wanted her work to have a positive impact on people.  That success could have taken many different forms, but if she had held too tightly to the vision of affecting others through screen acting, she wouldn’t have worked on her play, which developed her storytelling skills, which got her film gig. Her skill development advanced her career in either ending, but when Mia enjoyed the process she had a greater impact in her audience and felt more successful. As said in Lesson 3 above, it’s not too late to change your trajectory, just remember to enjoy the changes on the way.

 

If nothing else, think of La La Land as a reminder that we could all benefit from a little self-reflection. Re-evaluate what you want from life and see if you’re on the right path. While you’re contemplating, put the film’s soundtrack on. I think we can all agree it’s pretty damn good.

Career advice from 4-year-old you

Are you struggling to find your true calling? Are you working, but wondering why you don’t love your job the way you think you should? Perhaps it’s time to talk to your inner child.

Career paths can feel stifling, and it starts early in childhood with “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. When I was asked this in preschool, I replied “I want to paint wooden toys”. How specific! There was a wooden toy train at preschool that I thought was beautiful. Maybe it had “hand-painted” written on it somewhere, who knows. It was elegant, with smooth maroon, navy, dark green and black paint and it made me happy just to look at it. I thought I would like to put that rich coloured paint onto wooden toys, just like some unknown person had done to that lovely train.

The grown-up response I received was, “Oh, so you want to be an artist”. I carried that label for years, until I got sick of people telling me “you must like drawing and painting pictures”. I didn’t. So I thought I was wrong, I mustn’t want to be an artist. By then my favourite subject was maths, so my new reply to the “whaddyawannabe” question became “Accountant”. Adults would reply with “Oh, so you must love maths”. That was correct, I did love maths. So I must want to be an accountant.

Accounting turned out to be my least favourite maths stream. I was wrong again!! But we ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, as if being an adult is – literally – a piece of cake. Pick one that seems good, follow the recipe and be.that.cake. Our choices are limited to the cakes we’ve seen before. As a kid who loved maths, I didn’t know I was already collecting the ingredients to be an advertising statistician, economics journalist or a computer game developer (or this sales analyst for an adult toy company that really loves his job!). All I knew was that maths was an ingredient in “Accountant”.

Think about what gave you joy as a child, way back as young as you can remember, and consider this. Kids don’t know what’s good for them, they just know emotions. There’s not a lot of thought about money, life purpose or obligation to society. But at some point, the games and make-believe stop (well, for most of us). When did you stop, and why? Other commitments, schoolwork or sports? Peer pressure to sell your ‘My Little Pony’ collection and hang out at the mall instead? Chances are it was an external influence. You didn’t wake up one day to find that you no longer enjoyed playing.

How to tune into your inner child and put them to use:

1. What did you do for fun as a kid? What games did you like, what role did you play in those games?

2. What subjects did you like the most at school?

3. Where was your favourite place to be? Running around outside, in your room, at a friend’s house? Why did that location make you happy

4. These three questions above tap into your inner child’s mind, body and soul. Does your current job feed into these? What’s missing
I don’t paint wooden toys and I’m not an accountant. The team games I played and the solo make-believe at home (happy, but noisy!) has become independent work in an open-plan office. My love of maths and that gorgeous train are really a love of logic and the satisfaction of seeing a job completed, knowing that I helped make that happen. Project work is ideal for me.

What is your inner child telling you to do?

Image: Brio Train by Stephen Woods , licence CC BY 2.0

Great interview answers with the STAR response

Chances are that you have heard of the STAR response. But do you know how to use it without sounding like a robotic news reporter.

The STAR response

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results. It’s a great template for answering those behavioural questions that start with “Give us an example of a time when you…”. What I really love about using the STAR response is that it’s more than just a template. The STAR response allows you to time to think so your answers sounds coherent – even if you’re freaking out!

Let’s practice this with a standard interview question: “Give us an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer”.

If you’ve ever worked in any kind of customer service role you’ll be able to answer this easily!

Say the first employer that comes to mind. Start by explaining the challenging Situation and how your got there.

“My first job was at the counter of Budget Burgers. Sometime customers would be served the wrong meal or be overcharged and they would get angry.”

Next is your Task. What responsibility did you have to fix this situation?

“I would try to calm them down and find out what the problem was.”

The Action part is where you say specifically what you would do – what actions you would take – to complete your Task.

“I would listen to their complaint and I would try to understand what happened. If I could fix the problem, like a wrong order, I would fix it. If it was an overcharge or some other kind of issue I would offer an alternative or ask if they wanted to speak to my manager.”

Finally, it’s time to let the interviewers know about your great Results! Where your Actions successful, and what did you learn?

“I found that by calmly talking through the issue and showing understanding, the customer calmed down faster. Fixing it myself was the fastest solution and always worked well. But when I couldn’t fix it and I offered an alternative and the option to speak to my manager, the customer had choices and felt like they were in control and they were less likely to argue and more likely to want to offer solutions or accept one of mine. When I was a trainee I would call my manager over a lot, but I learned from watcher her way of dealing with the customers and I became better at it.”

That’s it! When the interviewers ask the question, don’t get overwhelmed, just think of each part of STAR one piece at a time and it will all come together. In your mind, you’ll be thinking “What was my task back then in that situation? What actions did I take? How did it all end?”. All the interviewer will hear is one coherent answer.

“My first job was at the counter of Budget Burgers. Sometime customers would be served the wrong meal or be overcharged and they would get angry. I would try to calm them down and find out what the problem was. I would listen to their complaint and I would try to understand what happened. If I could fix the problem, like a wrong order, I would fix it. If it was an overcharge or some other kind of issue I would offer an alternative or ask if they wanted to speak to my manager. “I found that by calmly talking through the issue and showing understanding, the customer calmed down faster. Fixing it myself was the fastest solution and always worked well. But when I couldn’t fix it and I offered an alternative and the option to speak to my manager, the customer had choices and felt like they were in control and they were less likely to argue and more likely to want to offer solutions or accept one of mine. When I was a trainee I would call my manager over a lot, but I learned from watcher her way of dealing with the customers and I became better at it.”

Recruitloop has a good list of different behavioural questions, such as “Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.” Have a go and if you want to share your answers, put them in the comments below.

 

Cover image from Pixabay. It has awesome cat pics.

Yay for migration!

I am a migrant. What image do you have of me?

I wrote a blog post for qustn.com about employing migrants. It’s a topic that is close to me as I have seen first-hand the discrimination migrants can be faced with but have also been floored by the stories of friends and colleagues who have overcome more than my brain is able to comprehend.

The main problem with any discussion about migrant workers is the word “migrant”. A migrant is someone who have moved from one area to settle in another.

That’s it. That’s the definition.

I have migrated to other cities, and to other countries. I’ve travelled by car and by plane. I’ve migrated with a shipping container of possessions following me and I’ve migrated with just a suitcase and a sports bag. But I am lucky. I was born a citizen of the country I wanted to move to and was a native speaker of the language. It sucks that not everyone is that lucky. It sucks that luck as anything to do with it at all.

Tolerance.org and BritishExpats.com are both fascinating reading. I’m quite sure that every country in the world has a group within it who don’t want immigrants, and each of those groups have a certain nationality in mind. Again, I had luck on my side in that I wasn’t from a nationality that my new neighbours traditionally objected to. And again, that luck was part of it sucks.

But I’m going to look instead at this list of reasons why people don’t like immigration, from UKIP via Huffington Post, and I’ll list how I fit in and exactly why I think it sucks.

  1. Immigrants are increasing NHS waiting times. “Britain is full”.

Read the article if you want the full stats about the inaccuracy of the NHS statement. The purpose statement of the NHS does not use the word citizen or resident. So let’s just accept that everyone can use it.

The system exists so that people can use it – when they need it. The NHS is understaffed, overworked and overused for non-emergencies. Let’s think about this. If our public health system is strained, perhaps it’s because the public aren’t healthy?

The NHS has listed 6 reasons why they are strained – and the public as a whole can fix half of them and it sucks that we forget that and throw blame around instead. We may not be responsible for rising costs, longevity and the inefficient structure of NHS services, but we can address the issues of our unhealthy lifestyles, our expectations and our attitude towards A&E. If you’re that concerns about the NHS, then be as healthy as you can and educate yourself and your community about what services you genuinely need and the best way to access them. As for supporting the aging population and rising costs, you can either support a tax increase, have children that will one day pay tax when you’re old, or you can increase the tax-paying population with immigrants.

I believe I have done my duty here. In the time I have been here I have paid tax and improved my health (only slightly, but I’m working on it). Also, I never been to A&E. When I sliced my finger open with a tree (that’s another story!), I treated myself using my first aid training, then went to the local pharmacy to obtain the most appropriate longer term treatment and learn how to dress the wound correctly.

In my original country, I was a more frequent client of the public health system and I would sit in A&E for hours with what I suspected was, and was indeed, a minor injury. The reasons why I sat there were sometimes due to lack of education about self-treatment and sometimes due to societal issues or employment requirements. The point is, if there are heaps of people sitting in A&E who aren’t suffering from an “A” or an “E”, there is another issue going on.

  1. Immigrants are to blame for undercutting British workers

If immigrants are taking your job because they are willing to work for minimum wage, then they must be desperate for the work and we should be angry with the employers who are illegally manipulating us all for money.

The first job interview I had in the UK was for a filing clerk position. I had a great CV, 5 years’ experience in administration and was interviewed for 20 minutes. At the end of the interview I was told that I wasn’t suitable because I didn’t have “local experience”. They knew that when they read my CV and called me for interview. Perhaps they decided against me because I asked for the standard hourly rate (I had done my research). Perhaps they decided against me for another reason. But I can imagine being desperate for work and willingly negotiating that point until they agreed to take me.

When it comes to local workers not getting work, I don’t blame immigrants. I blame employers for using illegal practices. I blame recruitment agencies for being too focused on sales targets instead of people. I also blame the rigidity of the employment processes that the standard for employing someone is to look over their CV and make them perform at a job interview. I happen to rock interviews and can style a winning CV, but I know many talented people who are brilliant at what they do, but can’t sell themselves on paper or can’t charm at interview. 

It takes hard work and vigilance to maintain a meritocracy. If it’s not working, blame the decision makers, not the chance takers.

  1. The entire population of Romania and Bulgaria could be heading to the UK

So much negativity towards migrants would dissolve if people who had these thoughts actually asked migrants why they moved here. There is a big difference between people who want to emigrate because they want to live in a certain country and those who don’t like where they are. I want to be clear that I don’t think reasons for emigrating a binary. It’s a scale and there are more than two extremes and zillions of points in between.

For me, I get the opportunity to share my reason for emigrating all the time because, again, I’m lucky and, again, that sucks. I relocated from somewhere traditionally seen as a destination. “Why are you here, I’d rather be there!”. Well, maybe you would and there are many good reasons (and some questionable ones) for that.

My reply is always the same: “Here feels like home”. We all want to be comfortable. We want food, shelter and a reason to get out of bed. I love my country of origin. I love the food, I love the flora and fauna, I love the relaxed atmosphere… but only in small doses. I was not a cultural fit in my own country. I am in this one.

This response gets mixed reactions. Locals either think it’s very sweet, or they think I’m crazy. Other migrants totally understand. They love to travel home, eat traditional food, sing the songs of their homeland popstars. But they don’t want to live there because they have more purpose living here.

This is very different to someone who wants to emigrate because they can’t live where they come from. If I was happy in my country and it ran out of food and we couldn’t import any, but I could move my family to a country that did have food, I’d move them.

If my country was taken over by a government or militant organisation that said that I couldn’t live the life I had been living (or restricted my provisions to do so), I would protest. If protesters, or anyone remotely supporting them were then being tortured or killed, I’d want my family and I out of there pretty damn fast. At that point, I would just pick a destination and go for it and that decision would be based on safety. Once my own country was safe again, would I return? Of course. If I had happiness and security before, I would want it again. If the country that took me in was giving me an even better life that what I had to start with, I’d embrace that country and its lifestyle instead.

I’d be a migrant, but I’d also be a refugee and I think we should all take a doctor’s approach to refugees: First, do no harm. Help people stay alive first, then work out the rest.

  1. Britain loses money wasting benefits on scroungers cheating the system

This idea brings me a wry smile every time. As the article states,

“Of course, if it weren’t for free movement within the EU, Britain would see a sharp increase in the amount of people living on unemployment benefit. There are currently more unemployed UK citizens in Spain, than all the EU immigrants claiming benefits in the UK combined.”

Unless you’re a refugee (and remember, nobody wants to be a refugee), it’s not that easy to just rock up and get benefits. I couldn’t do it as a citizen migrating here and even when I went to university, as a citizen, I had to pay international fees. If you have ever tried to claim anything through the government, be it welfare, housing, an NHS number, it’s never instantaneous.

If there are scroungers of any nationality able to cheat the system, then the system needs fixing and cheaters need to be dealt with. This issue has nothing to do with immigration at all.

  1. EU membership is a burden on the UK.

Once again, the article addresses this with the statistics and it’s all good. You want to know what a “burden” is? Having to spend £40 and a day of your vacation leave standing in a queue to get a visa, just so you can to take a flight to get to be on a “proper” beach. JK 😉

Ideas about migration are often discussed in terms of “rights”. Everybody has a right to live, and when you spend too much time thinking about what you don’t have, you don’t realise how privileged you are. Before judging people based on what they want out of life and what they will do to get it, measure it against what you already have.

Then, if you want to really know what good fortune and less fortune looks like, watch this video.

Cover Image by AJ Jain used under CC-BY-SA 2.0

3 Essential Things To Do Before an Interview With Your Mate’s Employer

You thought you had it made. A friend set you up with an interview at their workplace. Surely your success is guaranteed, right? After all, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, right?

But they still employed someone else. What happened?

I gave a friend’s CV to my employer once. I felt so good inside! I was going to help my friend get a job. I was going to help my boss find someone with the right demeanour for the role. I was sure my friend would fit in well, in fact I was very confident she’d hit it off with a few of the senior members. You can imagine our surprise when my pal ended up being second choice.

We both could have prepared much better!

3 things to consider before the interview

Here are the important things to consider if you get an interview through a friend, or any mutual connection:

  1. Are you the right fit? Cultural fit may be more important than you think. Depending on the team dynamic, your relationship with your connection could be either a positive or negative in the employer’s eyes.
  2. How well does your connection know you as an employee, or know your career goals? An employer will assess you based on your abilities and your potential. You connection probably knows your abilities, but are you both sending the same message about your potential?
  3. Are you ready to do your best – just like any other interview? Don’t take this opportunity for granted – show that employer that you really will do what it takes!
3 actions to take before the interview

So how should you prepare for such an interview?

  1. If there is a job description available, get a copy. If there isn’t, go online and find one. Then quiz your connection about how it matches the role and what elements would be best to highlight in the interview.
  2. Ask your connection to inspect your outfit choice. Just because the uniform includes jeans, that doesn’t mean you should wear them for the interview. Best to dress “at least one notch more formally” than the current employees.
  3. Ask yourself why you want the job? Would you still want this job if your connection wasn’t working there? If yes, that’s great! If not, this might be the time to politely withdraw.

Remember, it is an opportunity. It’s not a guarantee, in fact, it may not even be a good idea! Assess this opportunity like any other and take it if it’s worth it. I’ve had interviews via connections before which resulted in a job offer, how about you? When has it worked for you, or when did it become a disaster?

 

Cover image from Pixabay. It has awesome cat pics.

 

The Basics of Transferrable Skills

On the hunt for job hunting advice (am I going in circles?), you will find the phrase “transferrable skills“. Do you know what they are, and do you have any? Well done if you do. But even then, do you know how to sell those skills?

I was working with the Queensland Government, in Australia when they brought in the Capability and Leadership Framework (CLF). The concept, as I overheard at the time, was that all job descriptions would have essentially the same key criteria. At first, it sounded quite strange, and all I understood came from vague conversation and eavesdropping on colleagues. But it’s actually an excellent framework for analysing your transferable skills, and the website even has checklists to help you assess yourself. Okay, it all looks very governmental and is written as such, but the key points to focus on are there:

  • Supports strategic direction / Shapes strategic thinking
  • Achieves results
  • Supports/Cultivates productive working relationships
  • Displays/Exemplifies personal drive and integrity
  • Communicates with influence

Thinking about it this way makes it really easy to assess yourself for transferrable skills. How well do you understand your role in the context over the overall organisation? What are your greatest achievements, and what planning do you do to ensure you succeed? What networks do you have? What motivates you? How to you promote your ideas?

Notice how none of these questions are job-specific? That’s how you think about transferrable skills. If you’re thinking to yourself “I can’t get a job in recruitment, I’m just a volunteer at an animal shelter (or any other example that comes to mind)”, think about how what you do now affects those around you.

Do you have great conversations with suppliers/visitors/peers? Have you ever found a solution to a problem? Do you take pride in what you do? Then you have transferrable skills.

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Cover image from Pixabay. It has awesome cat pics.

The revenge relationship that will haunt you (and your CV)

Even adults can be wooed by the stranger with candy…

Amidst the festivities of Rakhi, my husband and I helped a friend realise that going all the way with a new going employer was going to result in a morning-after that would last for years.

This dear friend of ours recently contacted us to review his CV, because “it should look good, just in case I need it, and I want to update my LinkedIn profile”. This seemed fair enough. A little while later, he told us that he had been headhunted by a very large international company and he was in discussions with their HR contact about potential roles. Very flattering and exciting! He sent me the job descriptions, which only covered the essentials, but appeared to be standard roles in the industry. More money, bigger company, new experiences. He accepted an interview and was keen to meet hubby and I to prepare and practise.

We prepped him, all right. We prepared him to grill the company reps, to be the interviewer (not the interviewee) and to be strong enough to say “No”.

As much as I like to boss people around, I promise there was no malice here. I don’t like to crush dreams, demotivate others or put people down to make myself feel better. But I also don’t like seeing my friends make bad decisions and, as enticing as such as offer may sound, you should always look at opportunities in context.

Our friend is very good at what he does and already works for a massive international company.  He likes this company.  He likes most of the people he works with.  He loves the location, the salary is good, he’s become great friends with some of his colleagues and the company provides lots of support for employees.

There was really only one reason he was looking to move – fear of being trapped.

To get a promotion in his current work area, he would need to stay there for another two years. If he took a secondment, he would probably have to wait three years. Three years isn’t that long if you enjoy what you’re doing. The added problem was that although he knew his current area wasn’t for him, he wasn’t sure which area would be better. So when a charming stranger came up to him and offered him more money with a bigger brand name, he was very tempted.

I totally understood this feeling. I’ve been there many times – comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. You might not be able to articulate exactly why you are unhappy, but you know you don’t want to be where you are.

In the end, he came to the best decision not by looking at what the new opportunity offered, but what it didn’t. The job security wasn’t clear, there was no mention of the contract details. The employer, although a huge name in the industry, had a reputation for pushing workers to their limits with extremely long work hours. Finally, the role he wanted was not the one they were offering first. Instead, they were first suggesting he apply for a role that was higher paid, but completely lacking all the things he liked the most about his current role. He quickly realised that the offer in front of him wasn’t that tempting at all.

Instead, he needed to go candy shopping within his current company and he had to do it leisurely. Sure, he was feeling irritated with his work life right now, but if he made a drastic change he could regret it. In fact, he would probably regret it within an hour of working in an environment that didn’t match his strengths – long before the next big juicy payday.

We gave him two action plans:

  1. By the end of the year, meet with a manager from every work area that he thought could be interesting – openly. Tell these managers, and his own, about the outside offer. Tell them that he didn’t see himself in the same area in two years’ time but that he loved the company and wanted to find an area that was more suited to his strengths. Instantly, the fear and irritation became a networking opportunity – and an excuse to go out and have fancy coffee.
  2. Go to the interview anyway, and interview them. Ask why they headhunted him, why they thought he’d be suitable to this role, what are the working conditions like, what length is the contract, how quickly can he access professional development, etc. etc. We’re talking about really drilling them for information! If they truly wanted him with the company, they would have to put much more on the table. If they just wanted (experienced) bums on seats, they would have to look elsewhere.

The new job was a good opportunity. It was a good opportunity to have a chat with friends and get motivated to take some useful steps forward, instead of blind steps sideways.

**Update**

Our friend went for the interview, and was just as bored by the interviewers as he would have been by the job!  No deal 🙂

Do you need help making with a possible career move? Email us, or comment below.

Cover image from Pixabay. It has awesome cat pics.