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Career Changes: Career Evolution

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A terrific article appeared yesterday in one of the Harvard Business School blogs entitled, “If You Want to Be Original, Start from a Different Box.” His key message (and I am paraphrasing slightly): rather than follow history, start from your goal and work backwards, questioning everything else.

This is extremely valuable advice for those in career evolution. Over the Labor Day weekend, there were plenty of articles about people who have been in between jobs for months, some over a year. What struck me is how many of the stories revolved around the basic failure of the standard “job application” process. People have been applying for jobs for months, but still have been unsuccessful in landing one.

I feel the pain, believe me I do. But this calls to mind one of my favorite quotes by Stephen Covey, “Companies are perfectly aligned to get the results they get.” The same thing goes for people as well. The actions we take to get something accomplished are perfectly arranged to get the results we get. If we want different results therefore, what must we do?


[edit] Four Steps to Working Backwards

Correct. Change the actions. So back to the HBR article. Start from your goal and work backwards, questioning everything else.

Here are four major steps:

  1. Your goal is not to find a job per se. It is to find ways to leverage the things you do best (your “magic”) to add value to an organization. Defining your magic takes work, introspection and honest appraisal.
  2. Once you’ve defined your magic, you must explore the marketplace opportunities in depth to understand clearly how your magic can be applied to those opportunities. This takes research on the organization, networking to people who either work for the organization or know detailed information about it. You want to learn as much as you can.
  3. Edit down the list to the few that will really allow your skills to shine.
  4. Now as you approach the opportunity, you have a clear story – how your magic is the best fit for their situational needs. Because you’ve thought it through beforehand, you can make a much more compelling case for why the organization must consider you.

[edit] Conclusion

Folks, the traditional ways of finding work are simply not effective anymore. The evidence is all around us. Sending resumes out into the ether will not yield the results you desire.

Instead, work backwards from a clearly defined goal. Believe me, you will much happier with the results.

[edit] Related Best Practices

[edit] Author

The author of this article is Frank Cohee.

Frank Cohee is an accomplished coach and facilitator of individual client discovery. His highly-interactive process nurtures clients to connect their strategic goals with the realities of market needs. Focused and realistic implementation plans result. During the past 20 years Frank has assisted over 700 managers and executives as they have evolved their vocational careers.

As a particular area of coaching interest, Frank has designed and presented innovative entrepreneurial seminars over 60 times to in-excess of 600 attendees. He’s followed up with many of these clients to assist with marketing and fiscal strategic plans for their new business activities.

Prior to founding his consulting company in 1990, Process Improvement Associates, he spent 25 years in senior leadership roles with Northwest companies. These included seven years as President and COO of an innovative manufacturing company. These prior life activities provide a solid foundation of experience to integrate into his client career coaching work.

Frank holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Harvard University with distinction.

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