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Why we should invest in the development of career attitudes

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Recently a number of outplacement professionals were trained in the application of the Career Fitness Profiler, our career development instrument that, amongst other things, measures career attitudes in individuals. The notion of career attitudes inspired an interesting discussion. Everybody agreed that the development of career attitudes was useful for coachees in the outplacement programs. At the same time, the outplacement professionals were worried that for some people, developing career attitudes was way over their heads. The reasoning was pretty much as follows: “Some of the coachees come in and just want to get another job as soon as possible. They are not interested in developing career attitudes. Once a new job is found, they want to believe that the new company will be a safe haven until they retire.”

In other words, outplacement centres are filled with people who have worked for 15-20 years for companies like Ford, DHL, Delhaize, Heinz, Makro, Hewlett Packard and other perceived stable employers. The majority did not see the job loss coming, nor were they prepared for the jungle that the labour market has become. Furthermore, they want to continue to believe that being the master of their own career is not necessary. They just want go to a another ‘stable’ employer as soon as possible, continue to live in the illusion that this new company represents stability and forget the horrible episode of the job loss.

My opinion is that life-long employment does not exist anymore, not for white collars and not for blue collars. Organizations cannot pretend to offer it anymore and employees need to accept this fact.

I think it is about time that:

  • Employees face up to the consequences: the first responsibility for subjective career success resides with the individual
  • Organizations take an example of companies like TriFinance and Ormit who genuinely invest in career management skills for their employees. Their motive is to harmonise the needs of the company with those of the individual.

The reasons are obvious:

  • The labour market has become a jungle. There are no certainties anymore, except the certainty that sooner or later any person will find him/herself without a job or in a situation where a difficult career choice has to be made.
  • Organizations nowadays want EVERYTHING employees have to give: all their creativity, all their motivation, all their dedication. People need to be able to create a job that fits them 100%.
  • People who have developed career attitudes show a higher psychological capital. Happy people perform better, show more initiative and tend to stay.
  • A career resembles a marathon, not a sprint. Mastering self-knowledge, managing flow and being assertive about it is something that benefits all working people. Their well-being and subjective career success depend on it.

If you are a career coach, outplacer or an HR-professional, I have three tips for you:

  1. Make the development of individual career attitudes part of your coaching program/career management policy.
  2. Organize workshops about career skills to make people aware of what they can do themselves.
  3. Explore job crafting as a lever for increasing self-management and job satisfaction.

In conclusion, no company can guarantee life-long employment, both companies and employees have to take the responsibility to make professionals ready for the internal and external labor market. Developing career attitudes does just that.

Written by Lesley van Leke van CareerCoach®, the career analytics company

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