Saturday, March 15, 2008

Designing Your Future: Re-Visited

At the beginning of the year I wrote an entry that focused on the three competencies necessary for “Thriving at Work in 2008.” I want to re-visit and discuss more fully the second of these, Designing. My reason is that most of us pay attention to designing our futures only when we are worried or anxious about the present, and in my experience this is not the most effective way to manage a career.

Designing is the ability to picture and create a future built around our talents, values, and aspirations. We need to be designing our future, not just when needing to change jobs or careers, but as a consistent and regular part of our work lives. The skills needed to develop this competency include: Values clarification, goal setting, gap analysis, decision making, development planning, and market research. When fully developed, this competency leads us to a sense of clarity and confidence, enabling us to be fully ready to move into the future.

To begin with, how well do you know or understand your talents? Talents are those qualities and gifts each of us is born with that may or may not have nurtured over the years. However, as we build our work lives around our talents, we find ourselves not only being more successful, but work feels easier, more natural, and we more often experience a sense of “flow.”

Next, how clear are you on your values? When you think about what’s most important to you in your work and career or what gives you a sense of satisfaction at the end of a day or week, can you identify and articulate what that is? As you come to know and claim your values, you are to likely to derive both meaning and satisfaction from your work, and future job and career decisions will be easier to make.

Finally, what do you dream about and what can you really see yourself doing in the future? You may have chosen your job or career path for pragmatic or security reasons, but perhaps it’s time to sit down and ask yourself what it is you most want to do with your work life. Even if you don’t change anything about your job or career, I believe it is worthwhile to ask yourself now and then, “What do I most want to do with my work life?”

We are offering a new, two session course, Thriving in the Changing Work Place, that focuses on how to develop these competencies and the attitudes that support them. I’d like to invite you to join us so please check out the web site for specific times, locations, and fees.

Mark Guterman

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Networking--a useful tool for updating your resume

A few weeks ago I talked about the importance of understanding what your target audience wants to see before you update your resume. However, if one hasn’t looked for a job in several years, and is updating their resume for the first time after a long hiatus, where do they go to find out what their target audience is looking for today?

The suggestion I make to the above question is networking. Before you send your resume out into the world, you should gather information about what’s happening in your profession. A good place to start is with the friends and colleagues you’ve stayed in touch with from previous jobs. Reach out to them. Find out what they are doing. Ask what they are seeing in the marketplace. Find out what types of skills and backgrounds are in demand. What industries at hot? What types of companies are hiring? How much are people in your niche making? Ease into your networking by first contacting people you know will respond and keep your search confidential if appropriate.

Next, ask your close contacts for leads of people they know. These folks will expand your network, and because they don’t know you, they are more likely going to give you objective, unfiltered information about the marketplace and your overall value within it. You can also talk to recruiters. They are a good source because of their knowledge of the marketplace and information about local salary ranges. Be careful about the confidentially factor. Ask your colleagues for referrals of credible recruiters. They and the ones at Alchemy Search Partners are most likely to be helpful and keep your search confidential if you’re currently employed.

There is also a lot one can do on line to gather information. Monitoring the job boards is a good idea. Seeing what jobs are currently posted in your marketplace will give you a sense of what types of backgrounds and skills are in demand, and you’ll get a picture of who is hiring. Another useful place to go for networking and information gathering is Linked In, Linked In is a great tool for professional networking; one just has to be willing to reciprocate when it comes to giving others information to help their career along.

There are also a few web sites one can visit to gather statistical data and job descriptions: and The data at is more general and skewed by region, but it could be helpful for grasping basic job descriptions and getting to a starting point on salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is just want is says a statistical website, but it can offer valuable information about job growth and demand within your field.

There are many resources one can use to gather information about demand within their chosen career field. However, I still go back to grassroots networking; talking to people, as the most productive way to jump start your job search. For more information on these topics, reach out to Alchemy Search Partners at

--Steve Hernandez