In a Recovering Economy, What Really Is Career Development?

In a Recovering Economy, What Really Is Career Development?

In my business I place people in jobs, so I guess you can say I am in the career development business. Each time I meet with an applicant for the purpose of job placement I focus on their career interests and help them to focus on their career development plan. But I am also an executive career coach.

In this recovering economy it is important to augment this discussion on career interests with a review of a person’s natural talents, behavioral preferences, values, and skill strengths. The reason I suggest this is simple – there are so many people out of work that when I interview them for an open position they are willing to say they can do anything in order to get the job – even if it means doing something that they are ill-suited for.

Let me explain. “I have a job opening for a sales position.” “I can do that.” “But you indicated that you have spent the better part of your career as a finance officer.” “Correct, but I can be a great sales person – by the way – what does a sales person do?”

The talents necessary to be a great sales person would include relating to others, initiative, empathy, and persuading others to name a few. The talents necessary to be a great finance officer would include the ability to follow directions meet standards, seeing potential problems, and being persistent.

Sure, there will be some overlap of talents but the primary talents to be one are not the primary talents to be the other. Chances are he will try hard to succeed, and spend a lot of time and energy doing it. But he will not be successful.

If we are going to provide a solid career counseling service to job applicants we need to be honest with them and help them better understand what their natural talents are, what occupations that make the best use of these talents, and how they can apply those talents and be more successful in their career. I use the same process to identify a person’s behavioral preferences and their values.

I am not sure all those centers for career development would consider a company that does job placement as capable of helping people with a career development plan. But we can discuss that another time.

In this economy I would argue it is essential to help people focus on their current and future employability. Our increasingly knowledge-based economy is going to demand that individuals better understand their talents and capabilities more than in the past. We have a unique opportunity in this recovering economy to focus career development plans on a person’s talents – and to help them and their future employers reshape the way work is being accomplished – with less effort and greater results.