Friday, 21 October 2011

Career Sustainability: A blog for Britain's Unemployed Young - 'generatin...

Career Sustainability: A blog for Britain's Unemployed Young - 'generatin...: A few months ago I got a call from the BBC to originate some ideas for an upcoming series 'Up for Hire' , on BBC Three. I don't recognise th...

A blog for Britain's Unemployed Young - 'generating futures'

A few months ago I got a call from the BBC to originate some ideas for an upcoming series 'Up for Hire', on BBC Three. I don't recognise the DNA of many of my ideas in the show that I witnessed as I sat in the studio audience last night, but it has been a thrill to be involved in a show creating such a buzz and getting such an important topic on the media radar.


The 4 show series, condensed into a single week, tracked the job search fortunes of 4 long-term unemployed young people, 2 graduates and 2 non-graduates. At BBC Centre in London last night, after the show, it was great to speak to Kirsty and Chris, two of the recruits, and see them brimming with the confidence of the kick-start the show has injected into their early careers.


Watching each of the four 'recruits' grow from pretty dreadful first attempts at the 'minimum wage' jobs they did in the fun park on Monday night and gradually, show-by-show, gain traction each night, to ultimately transform into purposeful workers by last night (Thursday 20th October) has truly been a feat to behold. But to meet them in the flesh was to sense their palpable sense of positivity and focus.


They had grown from 4 hapless, clueless youngsters bumbling through the minefield of joblessness, into purposeful adults in what seemed like a 72 hour blinking-of-an-eye over the course of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night's extended 1½ hour show.


These four young people grew tangibly, of that there is no doubt. Yet where I am left is with a feeling of regret, not warmth and optimism. For these young people are four out of an unemployed population of 1 million young people in this country trying to break through. As a nation we really ought to be ashamed of ourselves for getting in such a mess and leaving the next generation of workers in the dole queue before they've even smelt success.


As most family values focus on breathing opportunity for growth, development and, above all security, in the lives of our young, we should as a nation - an extended family - feel remorse for how we are kicking our young people in the teeth as we are in 2011. The unemployment epidemic hitting our young people is destructive and threatens to ruin a whole generation who will take years to absorb the shock wave.


My early career was blighted by the failures of Thatcherism to tackle youth unemployment and I had soul-destroying experiences of YTS (Youth Training Schemes) and YOPs (Youth Opportunity Programmes). These experiences marred my early career and took 10 to 15 years to recover from. We are about to repeat the same mistakes again.


At 32 I crashed into the buffers, having lost another job, having rolled with punches throughout my twenties, I was dumped out of work again in the recession of the early 90s. My previous 15 years I'd often liken to sprinting down a dry grassy slope barely able to keep my feet beneath me. Having left home at 17, it was a constant fight for self-preservation and sanity.


However, I then got my first real career guidance interview with an inspiring Career Guidance Practitioner, who sat me down and helped me dissect, consider and reconstruct my 'career attributes'. The effect was transformational. I clearly had no clue who I was or what I could amount to before the experience and, as the 4 'Up for Hire' recruits I saw grow on TV this week, my life suddenly began to gain traction.


Within 2 years I had studied a year's postgraduate diploma in Career Guidance, survived a Probationary Year as a Careers Adviser, and taken on a Special Needs caseload working in schools and colleges looking after the fledgling career decisions of mainstream students alongside 'the gifted and talented' and learners experiencing emotional and behavioural problems. Their gaining traction instilled an immeasurable job satisfaction within me.


Working with the young people and seeing the results I was achieving with my career decision making method heralded the genesis of my Career Dovetail Formula; based upon my repeated discovery that my clients had little or no self awareness on the one hand, and on the other virtually zero awareness of the kinds of jobs that existed in the labour market. In essence, the laws of probability meant it would be unlikely they would ever fall into the best career path to capitalise their innate career attributes as most people seemed to entrust the bridging of childhood to adulthood to luck rather than fore-planning.


Positively leveraging our intrinsic qualities gives each of us a sense of self-affirmation and meaning to get-on in our lives. Forgive me, but I get really pissed-off when people say it's okay to randomly squander our talents and to allow young people to bump through job-after-job never really discovering a sense of purpose and more often than not, becoming increasingly demoralised.


It's bullshit to say it isn't important to invest in career decision making early. We seem to have got used to living in a world where mucking around and never planning a course towards our future is okay; a world where it is not 'pc' to mention failure. That might have worked in our land of plenty, but let me tell you the party is over - really over - especially for the young people trying to start-out and feed a family today.


A whole new generation of young people are going to starve if they are not tuned-in to the power of their vocational abilities. For the next decade life will be a challenge for anyone who dares leave the education and training system not able to stand up on their own two legs and steer a course towards a well-specified career goal. The days of bling are over - fake sparkle doesn't cut-it anymore - it's the real deal now. The day of judgement has arrived - career judgement. Lay firm foundations, construct solid job structures, build sustainable futures. And repeat.


For too long we have taken accountability away from politicians, educators, parents and young people. Our commercial arena is simply not getting the skills it needs to remain competitive. Organisations are filled with under-performers; a Herculean, tiny minority prop up the rest. Katie Hopkins made some unhelpful inflammatory remarks on 'Up for Hire' as an alleged expert on the subject of higher education. However, had she tempered her melodramatics into greater poignancy - she would not have murdered any hope of a constructive debate - because hidden within her tantrum were some bitter home-truths.


The UK labour market simply cannot absorb 50% of school-leavers going on to achieve a degree - "mickey mouse" - or otherwise. It is true that there are some morbidly indulgent degree pathways that rank alongside the most far-fetched I've ever heard of: a degree in the Vulcan language! Indirectly, it is great that the inimitable Ms Hopkins has catapulted this topic into the media; albeit toxically. But let's bring this debate's temperature down to a simmer and take a more objective look at what is going wrong with youth employment.


'UK Inc', as Prime Minister, John Major, once referred to it, has a finite labour market capacity - in real-time. It is more or less of a fixed size. Year-on-year for the last 3 years this market has shrunk. This is frightening even when it does not take into account the terrifying demographics with our population growing at 500,000 p.a. a shrinking teenage population and a seemingly, ever-growing and bulging population of pensioners in need of a workforce to generate the interest on their investments. To be globally competitive surely we ought to be properly auditing what our labour market has and what our labour market needs?


Teetering on the cliff-edge of an economic disaster, the UK has a grave choice to make. Either we equip our young people with the self awareness, labour market awareness and self-assuredness that a competitive marketplace needs or continue into some kind of national trance; a self-denial zone where the ship is really sinking but we're not capable of accepting reality.


We've led an entire generation up the garden path thinking they don't have to stand on their own two feet to survive (could this be 'welfare syndrome' an unfailing sense of being provided for and never having to do anything to survive?). We've convinced them that it is okay to base our whole ambition on a set of wannabe X-Factor principles where everyone is going to put food on their table by signing badly? Bear in mind the miniscule percentage of successful wannabes, as opposed to the legions of 'auditionees' who go home empty? Yet week-after-week, everyone is glued to their goggle box waiting to get famous. Or know someone famous. To fawn.


The same mentality seems to have hijacked the country's training systems. A combination of union might and political incompetence killed our once illustrious apprenticeship frameworks. As a nation we have not adjusted to the demise of our heavy industries and stepped-up to the demand for future-facing industries. We now copy rather than innovate.


We perpetuate the 'brain-drain' through not empowering REAL TALENT; the kind of talent that authentically contributes to society and generates good will as well as good taxes. Our economy has lapsed into reactivity, and the paradox is that within the space of people lives, still with us today, we've gone from top - and year-after-year - we're slipping further down the league tables. The reality is that unless we (the UK) approach this problem differently, we are on course for Third World status within a lifetime.


As I have written elsewhere, our country's obesity epidemic is just a metaphor for what we're like inside as a nation. We're not dedicating out skills, forgetting how to apply them and have taken our eyes of the prize; only a few of us are genuinely conscientious. It has been too easy during a prolonged period of plenty to get lazy. And out of this lull have come certain degree courses that might as well be millstones around our young people's necks when what they need is some impetus and a lifejacket.


In addition to reaping the backlash from dreadful economic policy, when Gordon Brown was prancing around in his invisible suit, and all the policy-makers and the voters were so intoxicated by the endless stream of cheap money they daren't tell him that he'd torpedoed his own ship, we have started killing-off and demolishing the whole superstructure that helped target the needs of young people and give them a helping-hand in working their future out.


In spite of announcing the launch of an 'All-age' National Careers Service in November 2010, John Hayes has done a U-turn and, having closed the vast majority of the country's careers centres, he has replaced it with a national helpline phone number (he caved-in to Gove). Mindlessly, at just the time the nation needs it most, virtually the whole of the professionally qualified careers profession has been made redundant. When was the last time an entire specialist workforce was put out of work and the media didn't give a hoot?!


The standard retort is that no one ever received helpful guidance from their Careers Adviser. I know this subjective view to parallel bad restaurant reports. A restaurant can give pleasure to 999 customers, but it only takes the 1000th to spread bad reviews and spells disaster. There are some remarkably inspiring Careers Advisers working in this country. And it seems through our period of plenty we have found a way of feeling we just don't need them anymore. We will live to regret it. Or at least our economy will… and then our children… and then their children's children.


Consider what success might look like for a moment:
  • We gear-up our National Careers Service to partner with industry leaders and help them envision what our country needs to construct an economically dynamic labour market.
  • We do the numbers - we properly audit the shortfall in skills and we work to facilitate an education process that produces those skills.
  • Four years ago we were massively oversubscribed by qualifying medical students where supply outstripped demand for their skillsets.
  • Two years ago a Law graduate could not get onto the all-important training year with law firms because all the law firms were shedding staff to keep their firms afloat.
  • Yet few of the universities tempered their approach to offering places and we all sat watching as the water in the ship started to lap at our knees
  • As Draconian as it might sound, we sanity-check all degrees on the basis of the contribution they make to society. And no, this doesn't have to be the death of the Arts!
  • We ensure all young people who embark upon a degree course or apprenticeship understand the destination and job prospects that pathway to the workplace holds for them. They consider their prospects ahead of time.
  • We reinstate Careers Action Plans for school and university leavers to capture each stakeholder's commitment to the chosen career pathway.
  • We start career counselling, competency identification and aptitude assessment earlier in school to enable young people to build upon the momentum derived from known strengths not a never-ending quest.
  • We set-up a national computer database which accurately describes the tapestry of jobs in our economy and interfaces it with labour market supply.
  • We knit our labour market-together to build a congruent, integrated and sustainable system where commercial, economic and labour market demand are in relative alignment.
As Steve Austin's boss said, "We have the technology...." We can rebuild our labour market. But we need some visionary thinkers to takeover the helm of the ship and steer a course to more fruitful waters. As it stands, our problem is that we are welded to convention at a time when we need pioneers to invent new ways of thinking and give them the support they require to turn our ship around. Everyone possesses a real talent for something. Let's help them develop.


As good as 'Up for Hire' was on the BBC this week they missed an opportunity to truly inspire. There was an elephant in the TV studio. Not once did they properly tackle the subject of career planning. Nobody seems to have noticed but me. The 'career guidance' phrase wasn't even uttered; (although this is partly the fault of the career guidance profession for never getting their PR right - but that's another story!)

My final point comes back to the difference that was made on four young people's lives when experts and experienced workers invested a few hours in their development. Each of those youngsters was despondent due to long term unemployment and a lack of any prospects existing on the horizon. The relatively short time it took to turn them on to how exciting their prospects could be, if they only knew, created electricity in each of them and transformed their outlook for the good - and for good.


It is time to catalyse a movement where Government neglect can no longer be a factor in the future of our young people's careers. There is a way of turning this ship around. We need a lobby to turn this ship around and we need it today.

Jamie Oliver famously coined the phrase that our schools are 'nutritionally barren'. Today I want to warn everyone reading and ask that you repeat my words to everyone you know because we are also 'vocationally barren'!!


I am launching The Purpose Foundation to help young people lay the foundations of purpose in their lives and to partner with industry to recover our industrial excellence.


Together we can get the numbers right and tailor education and training systems that not only turn-out well-rounded and well-adapted young people, but in addition we generate unprecedented momentum in our industry with the aim of becoming a truly sustainable economy so that our children's, children's legacy is one worth inheriting.
Not like the one we're leaving them now.
The Purpose Foundation Manifesto
If you are interested in supporting this initiative please sign-up at:


http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Purpose-Foundation-supporters
Once we have enough support, we can build something truly inspiring from there!
Please spread the word and help grow a movement.
Duncan Bolam


http://www.blogger.com/duncanbolam@careerdovetail.co.uk


This publication/blog/ article is intellectual property of and explicitly owned by Duncan Bolam. Career Dovetail©®™ is a Registered Trademark and the property of Duncan Bolam © 1998-2012.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Job Feed My Soul


For many, many years I was despondent at the complete and utter lack of meaning in my career. And I mean despondent. The expectations of others seem to cloud my judgement. In retrospect, I recognise that I was tetchy, arrogant, unfulfilled and in a constant state of unrest.

As my own story goes I lost my dream job at the age of 32 and slammed into the buffers. I became a resident of ‘Skid Row’ and found myself in an utter and complete tailspin. There were one or two occasions where I questioned whether I could even go on. Life was bleak and the day-to-day outlook did not seem to be improving. I was in a rented bedsit, on the dole, on the breadline, living on baked beans and struggling to cope with being what I regarded at the time as ‘down-and-out’. How damaging we can be to ourselves.


In the depths of my despair someone I had previously regarded as a friend for life, a person I held in hugely positive regard, asked me what felt like being a failure. I thought I’d hit rock-bottom, but I soon found out I was wrong. This kick in the teeth knocked me even further down. I saw my ‘friend’ through a different lens. That was December 1994. I remember it well because I lost my job, reputation and roof-over-my-head on 4th December.


I’ve written about it at length elsewhere, but in the interim period I received my first bona fide career guidance interview with an inspirational Adult Career Adviser called Mike, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude to this day. His guidance compared to that of an alchemist as he took me from the depths of despair and skilfully guided me towards my renaissance.


By the end of the first week in January 1995 my life started to show green shoots like the snowdrops hale the end of dark winter months. That metaphor still works for me all these years later as I watch for the early Spring. The same way my heart skips a beat when I see the first swallow arrive on my horizon. It is these uplifts that feed our soul. Somewhat ironically, I had been accepted onto a postgraduate diploma in Career Guidance and started the rebuild process and germination of the person I knew, deep down, I had the potential to be.


As my friends who knew me before my transformation will tell you, finding my ‘calling’ changed me deeply. And I emphasise that I use the word ‘calling’ in a completely non-Lutheran sense. (I’m no longer a conditioned Christian, as regard myself far more a Holist in my outlook.) What I mean when I say calling is that I tapped into the innate vocation that lives within each and every one of us. My life transformed because every faculty I possess, every life experience, every career attribute, is drawn-upon and channelled daily in my job and repays me the dividend of meaning and fulfilment.


Having done my year’s postgrad I went on to my Probationary Year as a Careers Adviser, relocating to Surrey and working in three mainstream secondary schools and one special needs school. I tapped into a new-found self belief as young people were mirroring my enthusiasm for my job in some form of virtuous circle that spread the dividend outward.


Gradually, the traction came back into my life. In truth, the traction probably entered my life for the first time! As now I had a vocation my identity and self esteem became more strongly anchored. I found where previously people might have regarded as arrogant and argumentative; I became increasingly comfortable in my own skin, peaceable and contented. No longer feeling hunted and forever in pursuit of fulfilling my potential in some far-flung fantasy. I had tapped into my innate strength and it was feeding me.


Nowadays, I see no greater pleasure in my life than guiding others towards tapping into their inner vocation and uncovering the career attributes that can feed their soul. You can see the ‘before and after’ in their eyes. I know what the experience felt like in my own life; like the dark in a cave and the beach on a summer’s day – total contrast! With and without.


I see the eyes of meaning-filled people sparkle with a perpetual intensity that is infectiously charismatic and nurturing; especially craftspeople building tangible products with their hands. These are especially wholesome jobs – the epitome of ‘Career Sustainability’ – career identities that will last for the long haul of a lifetime.


Whereas, people in dead-end, meaningless jobs, and those unfortunate people not to have any work in their lives, can seem soulless and empty; with tapping into the affirming powers of meaningful work instilling that all-important sense of purpose and virtue being the remedy to our quest for the meaning of life.


Working with what you’ve got within in you is invigorating on every level. It truly uplifts the soul and builds the life. The toughest part is placing one’s trust in others to help decode what your calling is because part of being human is that we’re not always very skilled in recognising what we’re best at. Our filters don’t work this way .


Only the weak and faithless perpetuate their lot by never seeking help. The process of reaching out and connecting builds stronger bonds in stronger communities; the more meaning in the community, the more peace everyone enjoys. Life goes on, sustainably.
Feed your soul and others’ today – tap into your career attributes – help others tap into theirs - purpose feeds all of us and lifts our souls.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Career Action Plan

If you're seriously into self preservation and avoiding unnecessary risk, then why haven't you invested time in your Career Action Plan lately? Not having one is akin to going on vacation without travel insurance, risky and potentially downright irresponsible.

Sit down and contemplate what your career attributes are: skills, strengths, vocational interests, experience, competencies, qualifications... how they piece together and how they dovetail into the World of Work. Plan your way ahead and instill purpose in your life. Develop your perfect interview script for your dream job. Don't give up until you have designed it.

Need encouragement? Why not do the sensible thing and hire a Career Development Professional. You service your car and pay a mechanic. Why not invest in servicing your career because introspection like this is one of the toughest tasks you will ever perform, but when the economy is spiralling downwards, having a preconsidered career strategy detailed in your Careers Action Plan is a key component in any contingency plan and perpetuating your income.

Don't think big companies spend millions a year on contingency plans if they're not important. Why not be prepared, sort your Career Action Plan out without any further delay.

Decision tangles aren't just for the young, everyone needs some guidance

I met two young guys this week who are deep in the throes of decision making dilemmas. One had managed to whittle his career decision making down to three options; whilst the other had become seriously ill after drowning under the weight of being blind to his significant career attributes, not knowing what he is equipped to achieve or what he is here to do.


Put mildly, the guy with 3 options is still looking at hugely diverse options from professional sport, a career in media technology and an entrepreneurial start-up; the other just incapable of deciphering a way forward and utterly waylaid by the not knowing.

MPs in England and many policy-makers seem to believe that as a society we equip our young people with the decision making powers necessary to tackle the hugely portentous choices that we inevitably bump into throughout the course of our lives.


Please feel free to correct me, but throughout the whole passage of my education I cannot recollect a single exercise in a classroom that went anywhere near teaching me how to evaluate my options and decide. Decision making is a critical life skill, a survival skill, that we seem to believe is learnt through some kind of osmosis.


In the harsh light of reality, this process of osmosis is what some people call 'The University of Hard Knocks' or 'The University of Life' when what we are really trying to say is that the only way to truly learn the skill of decision making is through repeated failure and the build-up of some helpful layers of scar tissue.


Fair enough, making mistakes is a fantastically effective way of learning what not to do in the future. I think this approach works quite well in the realms of learning to ride bicycles, but with a decision as impactful as a career path, why should we encourage young people to stake their psychological wellbeing on such an unpredictable, high risk strategy? We ought to remember how much of our identity is built upon what we choose to call ourselves in the workplace, how our career connects all of the dots between mortgage, grocery shopping, holidays, cars and pension plans. Without a well-considered career plan and the resilience to navigate change, who are we?


I've been there to help the 26,27,28 year-olds pick-up the pieces of shattered dreams and misspent years banging their heads off brick walls whilst the blood is trickling off the end of their noses. I've done it just this week and my heart really bled for this tremendously capable, kind and sincere young guy who had invested his all down the wrong track, only to have it explode in his face years later, just at the time when many of his peers are gaining real traction on their lives. Yet our Government officials seem to think our young people don’t need career guidance.


When you do talk to young people ahead of these pivotal decisions and/or just after the potentially misspent years, it seems to me the errors were caused by ill-fitting expectations. Parental pressure, peer pressure, societal pressure can heat up a decision just enough to distort reality. This is bad enough. But there is an equally sinister side to cocked-up dreams of fast cars, sun-kissed beaches and the good life, the incredibly exaggerated expectations of the young person.


Now that we have created a culture where every young person seems to believe the only viable route to the good life is to grab a degree, anything short of this lofty aspiration now smacks of failure. When in the harsh light of the economic reality - at the time of writing - a degree is possibly the last career option I would advocate unless the chooser is committed to expanding their education further along a very specific route with well-defined goals in mind.


More dangerous again in the league table of miss-matched expectations - and this is not going win me any popularity stakes - is that so many young people I meet want the big pay cheque, the fast car and all the trappings of wealth and responsibility without doing 'the filing', 'tea making', or any of ‘the grunt' required. It is as if they're on a fantastic snakes and ladders board and all of the throws of the career dice land them on ladders which take them very smoothly, effortlessly and swiftly to the loftiest heights of their chosen career trajectory. This na├»ve outlook really can cause damage, the pieces of which are very hard for anyone to pick up.


Being the possessor of great potential is a huge responsibility which requires fantastic decision making powers, deft management, total commitment, but above all, the patience to turn the potential energy into well-targeted kinetic energy. And this only really comes from the investment of time, the accrual of time-tested experience and hard-earned respect - self respect goes hand-in-hand with, and is dependent upon, the respect of others.


A life time of opportunity and fulfilment is a very difficult journey to short circuit. The extra time invested can only help hone our decision making capabilities in the long term. It seems it is only the weak and perpetually insecure who are afraid of asking for help.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A Level Results & Common Sense

Today is just a short blog to mention the madness of the clamour for university places at a time when the career guidance profession is all but obliterated by Government policy.

For many years Careers Advisers would be on hand to help pick up the pieces of broken plans on A Level Results Day. For some reason this Government do not believe that Career Guidance has anything to offer. This might be true if we were not in the midst of more upheaval and social change than perhaps ever before in history.

In 2011 young people are inundated with career options at a time when Government seek to balance the demographics in the labour market. Never could the World of Work accommodate 50%+ of graduates. The elemental economics of supply and demand tell us this. In a globalised market we need aggressive training programme to ensure our companies are leading edge. I personally don't believe we can achieve this without a realistic workforce determined to put themselves at the top of the skills economy.

Today is probably not a great day to be postponing your degree until 2012 at the risk of paying back debts for 30 years. There have got to be better options. Why not talk to a Careers Adviser about what they might be?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Job Search SB 6

The Path of Least Resistance:

When you are looking for a job make sure you understand exactly what your career passions are. It is no good moaning about rejection when you haven't taken the time to do the detective work necessary to identify your working talents and career attributes, such as - skills, strengths, interests and values.

The shortest journey to you getting a job that you truly love, where you outshine your competitors on the interview shortlist, is to decide what you do best - and do it.

Career Steer

The world of career development is built on more than 100 years of theoretical and practical evolution. Somehow this professional discipline has managed to keep a uniquely low profile for such a widespread field making such a notable contribution.

In spite of being proven by tens of thousands of academics to impact beneficially to the psychological, sociological, physiological and economic wellbeing of the individual citizen and society at large, people place little recognition on these compelling facts. Career Guidance, Careers Advice, Career Counselling, Career Coaching, call it what you will, the bottom line is, it is good for you.

A career that is going somewhere is a beautiful sight to behold. Watching a person emit a sense of purpose is one of the most charismatic sights in the known universe. People fly around a well-polished talent like moths around a candle. The gifted artisan lights up the smile of a stranger without the need of words. Yet the probability of any individual citizen uncovering the innate career which lies inside them is 10:1 against.

It is part of the human condition that it is easy to help others with their decisions, but harder than hell to help ourselves work-out our own. In fact I believe this inability to make important life decisions on our own is a naturally in-built failsafe mechanism that strengthens the fabric of society by having us accord and interact with those around us. Hence, why, with the proliferation of singleton households, the all-important sense of community has waned and it has become harder and harder for individuals to contribute to the greater whole.

All the more reason to get a steer on your career and consider whether your career is going to take you somewhere you really want to go with your life; or career out of control in a way that contributes little to anyone, least of all your Self.

What price would you pay for knowing?

www.careerdovetail.com

Monday, 7 February 2011

MyBlogLog

Job Search Sound Byte 5 - Answers to a Tough Labour Market

The Tougher it gets out there, the better the reasons are for planning your career


As with bouts of depression, being jobless is unbelievably tough and climbing out of the trough feels insurmountable. The deeper the trough, the harder it can be to climb out. As with life in general doing what we can to get our discipline to kick in is vital in relation to how quickly we succeed in overcoming the short term challenges.

Often overcoming bouts of low self-esteem can be closely linked to the state of our diet. If we are not looking after ourselves and have a poor quality diet mixed with unhelpful substances like nicotine, alcohol and unprescribed medicines, these factors can all intensify the feelings of worthlessness and prolong the periods of work-less-ness.

Speaking to a Career Development professional and talking through where your work preferences lie is a great way to putting yourself back on the road to recovery. Instilling that all-important sense of direction in your life is key to getting back into work and rebuilding your bruised self-image.

Recognise that there are many job factors that need to be meshed-together to form your career strategy and how you are going to apply yourself to your job search. As a rough guide it will probably take in excess of 12 hours deep introspection to truly identify your capabilities, strengths, skills, talents, values, likes, dislikes, motivations and attitudes and piece them all together into a sustainable plan.

As a formula to help your decide The Career Dovetail System is great way of improving your awareness.

How do you recognise your purpose in life? And how to see it in others

My heartfelt belief is that 90% of the population are in the wrong job altogether or not engaged by their work.

 According to the laws of probability, not thriving in the right work for you is likely because we’re inundated with so much choice these days that the probability of landing a job that you love makes it unlikely. Someone mentioned a statistic to me which I constantly repeat: 75% of the goods available to consumers today were not invented in 1975!!

Young people and old are flooded with decision making challenges on a daily basis. So without taking career planning seriously you’re highly unlikely to randomly land in a job that you love. As I frequently point out, people treat their career planning along similar lines to pinning the tail on a donkey.


What is a job that you love anyway?

Well for me it is all about a job that conjures-up a sense of purpose in your life. The alarm clock rings, the duvet hits the ceiling and you know just where you’re going every day. Your working generates a busy hum and everyone around you knows you are on target to succeed. Based on passion, your work is effortless.

Your life is the personification of meaning. You have meaning in your stride, in the tonality of your voice, in your body language and it is actually quite attractive to behold. People experiencing purpose in their lives are more attractive and they have great energy in their lives. So the likelihood is that not many of us benefit from this esoteric aura that earns us a pleasurable living.

Bean-Counters don’t see the value in purpose because they cannot see it and they cannot measure it. However, if they stood back for a moment and looked at the people who demonstrate purposefulness in their lives they’d see it. And probably find a way of measuring it because it a where organisations generate all of their value.

By definition most innovations stem from people who see a problem and want to solve it. The see an obstacle to getting something done efficiently and invent a solution that overcomes the hurdle. They thrive on this kind of purpose and it is this drive that fuels their daily contribution. Therefore, purpose-filled people are value generating people and Bean Counters might do well to recognise them better.

Turning this around, if only 10% of most organisation’s employees are purposeful and yet they are profitable and sustainable businesses, imaging the value that could potentially be generated if more employees were purposeful? Bean Counters might not recognise it, but that bottom line they’re so focussed on all stems from their colleague’s purpose in life.


Turning people on to meaning-filled and purposeful careers is not some esoteric fantasy. We owe it to ourselves, our organisations, our bottom-line but most of all to our employees to turn them on to their purpose and bear witness to the change in attitudes. Sustainability, wellbeing and value and all inextricably linked to well-intentioned focus, meaning and purpose. Get those pillars in alignment and see your stock rise.


So I leave with this thought: If you could measure purpose in your life how would you measure it? And how would you recognise purpose if you saw it?

Responses to: duncanbolam@careerdovetail.co.uk