Tuesday 21 February 2012

Soul Destroying Job Search

For those who can remember the bad old days, I left school in 1980 and endured the failing youth employment policies of 'Youth Employment Programmes' and the dreaded 'YTS' (Youth Training Schemes). For those younger readers, I’m afraid ‘the system’ for getting young people into work was about as ineffective as it is today!

It would be hard to think of a more lacklustre and innovation-less process to inspire young people about their career plans. Yet here we go again using a sausage factory approach to solving the challenge of getting more NEETs (a young person not in education, employment or training) into the workplace and off welfare payments.

Back then, I remember working as a so-called Assistant Professional Golfer 'thinking' I was on a credible training scheme, but basically I was working 60 hour weeks for £12.50 and being taken for a ride. When I look back it would be hard to imagine how a young person could be taken advantage of to such an extent, but policy-making seems to be cyclical or we have very poor memories as to what does and doesn't work.

What doesn't work is churning young people out of school without a viable and sustainable career plan. I've argued with the entrenched attitudes of old-fashioned teachers in common rooms stating that young people go to school to learn, not to develop a career plan or decide what to do with their lives! I'd say we're teeing young people up to fail if they leave school clueless about where their strengths and weaknesses lie and exactly what career attributes they possess to offer a future employer. Yet I know school after school who churn-out young people ill-prepared to even make a decision, let alone have any real idea about what goes on in the world of work outside. They are effectively ‘institutionalised’ and it can take them years to adapt to the realities of the world; which comes as a huge shock to many.

Fair enough, the careers profession has failed miserably to develop a credible presence in society as all people ever do is talk about who awful their career guidance was when they were at school. Well, I need to tell you, my early career guidance may have been dreadful, but I owe my livelihood to an inspirational Careers Adviser, who I have thanked in posts elsewhere. (My main aim has been to develop a tangible and non-esoteric approach that gives people traction quickly; without the touchy-feeliness associated with many career guidance approaches.)

In terms of Soul Destroying Job Search, we need a career plan if we're to stand a chance of jumping the obstacles between unemployment and a worthwhile job…and surviving this trial of attrition! People derive meaning in their lives in a vast diversity of ways. No two people are alike! Self-confidence stems from self-understanding, self-acceptance and formulating the ability to see oneself doing well in the world.

As I bang on and on about, people with a sense of purpose in their lives are charismatic. They attract positive attention from others. They're simply attractive. It's not rocket science, yet thousands and thousands of people get into their mid-life and have no clue about where their career attributes and strengths lie.

On a day-to-day basis many millions of unemployed people, the world-over, sit in front of a pc screen in search of a job. Statistically, this is rarely where their next job lies. I’d suggest switching computers off and going and talking to people about how they made their career decisions. How did they uncover their career strength? What skill do they make the most use of on a daily basis? What do they like least about their job?

If you ask your contacts for a job, you might risk embarrassing them. If you ask them for job-related information - especially the people who demonstrate a passion for their work - then there are few people who would turn you down.

The exciting stuff happens when you find someone who shares your interests, shares your passions for work and you have career attributes in common with. These are the potential gatekeepers to helping you land your next job. You won't have to ask, they'll recognise the right potential in you and do what they can to assist. A shared interest can form a powerful bond.

Your challenge is talking to enough people to get you to the person who shares your interests and can help. But rest assured, it has to be better than banging-your-head-off-a-brick-wall, in isolation, at home with your pc, in solitary confinement, with no money. This is what I recognise as a 'Tail Spin'!! And it is a pain-filled, bad news story for everyone.

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