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The Ultimate Career Success Workbook

The Ultimate Career Success Workbook

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Published by: reggiee on Jul 28, 2009
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The Ultimate Career Success WorkbookIntroduction
I saw an advertising slogan for a recruitment agency a few years ago that said, 'The job forlife is dead. Long live jobs for life.' I thought that it summed up very succinctly what manybusiness school professors, sociologists and other commentators in the world of work havebeen saying for a few years now. Gone are the days when you could expect your employerto look after you. Only a few decades ago, you could join an employer after leaving school oruniversity and wait for your employer to provide training for you, determine your career path,and give you occasional pay rises and promotions for the length of your career. Thepsychological contract between employer and employee implicitly assumed that employeeswould work hard and be loyal to their employer in return for the employer providing work forlife. But that is no longer the case.The world of work is changing. What with globalization and increasing pressure to perform,organizations have been engaging in downsizing, delayering, and even 'right-sizing'. As aresult no job can be guaranteed for life. The old hierarchies are getting stripped away in aneffort to reduce cost, and with fewer layers there can only be fewer opportunities forpromotion. And even though you may be able to find some sort of job for yourself, will it beas challenging and satisfying as it should be? The message is that if you do not take steps tolook after yourself, your employer is not going to do it for you.The psychological contract between employer and employee has changed, and this bookrecognizes that fact. The psychological contract for the 21st century assumes thatemployees will take the responsibility for managing their own careers. So individuals mustsearch the world of work for employers who will offer them the opportunity to pick up newskills and experiences that will make them employable for the future.Unfortunately, the world of work can be a perilous place without an employer looking out foryou. However, this is exactly the sort of work that - as business psychologists - mycolleagues and I do on a day-to-day basis. We work with all sorts of individuals and teams ofpeople as well in a variety of organizations in industries ranging from publishing toconstruction, and consumer goods to investment banking. But, recognizing that we cannotmeet all of our potential audience in person, this book sets out to help you look afteryourself: tackling the issues that we have most frequently come across in recent years.Not sure whether you are in the right job or not? Not sure whether you have spent too longworking for the one employer? Or maybe you are wondering how to beat off competitionfrom your peers and climb the career ladder? If any of these questions describe you, thenthis is the book for you. These are just some of the other career questions that this book setsout to help you answer:

How can I get the promotion I think I deserve?

Am I really happy doing what I am doing at the moment?
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How can I juggle my personal goals and aspirations with my need to earn a living?
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I find myself unemployed: how can I find a new and satisfying job?

How can I be happier and more successful in my current job?

How can I find a different employer who will value me (and pay me) more?
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What can I do to improve my career prospects?

How can I have a career and not just a job?The good news is that most people have not realized that they need to take their careers intotheir own hands. Or, if they have realized, they are too lazy to do anything about it. So for
 
the minority of people such as you, the reader, who is willing to invest in thinking about yourcareer, you will be able to carve out a successful and rewarding career.
Putting in the Hard Work
There is no magic formula to achieving a better career, I am afraid. You cannot simply wavea magic wand and hope to have a more successful and satisfying career in a few easysteps. You cannot simply read the book from start to finish and expect your new life toappear. In fact, any book that claims instant results is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.It is going to take hard work.I would recommend strongly that you do not read this book all in one go. There are manyexercises and questionnaires for you to complete, contemplate, and come back to. You mayread a section, go have a coffee, start an exercise and leave it for a week before finishing it.You might then need to take a few days to talk the implications over with colleagues, friendsor other confidantes. Advice that is written in a book can never provide you with all of theanswers, especially when it concerns something as momentous as your work and life. Thisbook is only meant to stimulate your thinking and give you a handful of ideas: but you needto invest the time, thought and energy to reflect on how those ideas could help you inachieving your personal career goals.But this book is not just about analysis and logical thinking to determine what you should bedoing in the future. Your feelings and intuition have an important part to play in helping youto get the most out of this book. There are quizzes and exercises in here that are designedto make you think, but they are not aimed at pushing you in one career direction overanother. The ultimate test of whether a career decision is right for you is whether you feelthat it is the right thing for you. For some people then, the hard work comes in using theirintuition and tapping into their feelings as much as using logic and planning.The hard work does not stop there. You may need to challenge beliefs and assumptions youhold about yourself or have to face uncomfortable truths. You may have to addressinterpersonal issues at work, training or retraining may be necessary, and maybe you willneed to spend evenings and weekends studying. And it is certain to take months rather thandays or weeks to see any real improvement in the quality of your working life. However, ifyou stick with it, this book will put you on the right course to having a more enjoyable andprofitable career.
How to Use this Book
This book is designed for you to skip around. I recommend that you start withChapter 1 because this involves the most thinking on your part and you really need to have a good ideaof what you want to achieve in your life (both in and out of work) before you start wading intothe advice sections in later chapters.Once you have readChapter 1, however, you may want to jump to whatever interests youthe most. This book sets out to guide you through some of the most common careerdilemmas that people face. The issues that we face in our work do not crop up in a linearfashion: your career is not a journey that follows a predetermined path. Consequently, thereis no reason why you should read this book in a linear fashion either. Skip around fromchapter to chapter to whatever you need to read for where you are in your career. Havingsaid that though, the chapters are broadly split into three sections:
Doing what you do but better
 
Perhaps you are happy at the moment to stay in your chosen career and to continue workingfor your current employer. But perhaps you want more. If you are sick of seeing less talentedbut more political colleagues succeed ahead of you, thenChapter 2will help you to identifypoliticking and prevent people from getting the better of you. But while the motives of theoffice politician may be wrong, the skills they sometimes use to influence and persuadeothers can be put to ethical use for you; a topic that is handled inChapter 3. After all, we canall probably think of examples of people who have succeeded in the workplace not becausethey are the brightest or most skilled person, but because they are the best connected andmost influential.Having said that though, it is sometimes the case that individuals stagnate and do not doenough to boost their skills and employability.Chapter 4should give you some ideas aboutthe kinds of skills that will help you to get ahead.Chapter 5outlines some of the (sometimestedious) hoops - appraisals, internal interviews and assessments - that we may have to jumpthrough to get ahead at work.Chapter 6may help you to think about some of the leadershipchallenges you may face, should you wish to take on the responsibilities of becoming amanager.Sometimes, it is not our skills or the lack of them that holds us back: but other people's
perceptions 
of whether we have those skills or not.Chapter 7should help you to figure outhow you come across to others and how to improve your impact on them.
Handling career dissatisfaction
Chapter 8tries to tackle an increasing issue for many people. Many of us feel compelled towork harder and for longer hours to fend off competitive colleagues. As a consequence, ourwork is increasingly encroaching on our personal lives. This chapter will help you to thinkabout how to address the balance between your working life and personal life.Chapter 9offers more practical advice on tackling possible imbalances between your workand personal life. If you are working hard, you may feel that you deserve greater rewards foryour efforts. Or, you may decide to renegotiate your working hours to better suit yourpersonal needs.
Changing direction
Chapters 10-12 offer thoughts and advice on changing jobs. But there is no advice here onmere interview skills. These chapters challenge you to think about whether you are doingwork that really satisfies your interests and personal needs.Chapter 10asks you to think about whether you are in the right job, and what sort of workenvironment and culture you should be looking for in your next job.Responding to job adverts is old hat. The new way to find a better job is covered inChapter11. And finally, when you think that you may have found the right job for you,Chapter 12  provides you with some thoughts and checklists to ensure that it really will be as perfect as itshould be.So keep this book with you on the lifetime journey of your career. Let me know how it goes!

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