Book Review: The Finch Effect: The Five Strategies to Adapt and Thrive in Your Working Life. How to take charge of your career
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
Career Evolution: Take Charge of Your Career or Risk Career Extinction
The Finch Effect: The Five Strategies to Adapt and Thrive in Your Working Life, by Nacie Carson. Hardcover, 208 pp. ISBN: 1118134281. Publisher: Jossey-Bass. Pub. Date: May 2012.
Reviewed by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
If you’re frustrated with your current job, disappointed with where you are in your career, and unsure of how to make the changes you need to succeed, The Finch Effect, by Nacie Carson is the perfect book for you.
The workforce mythology that many of us believed — that employers value and respect workers and actively encourage professional development to move worker’s careers forward — is now a myth. Workers have to proactively take charge of their careers or face stagnation — or worse — elimination.
What’s the answer for strengthening your career? The five strategies outlined in Carson’s book, a book she describes as about professional evolution.
Using the framework of how species evolve over time to changes in environmental elements, Carson lays out the key strategies that workers need to incorporate to help evolve to the changing job market. Where do these strategies come from? Carson developed them from the insights of professionals she interviewed.
I love this book for a number of reasons, starting with Carson’s charge that the workplace and the job market have changed forever — regardless of the strength of the economy. The strategies she suggests are solid, and include key exercises for helping readers implement them into their careers. This book is informative and useful for all job-seekers/workers.
What’s driving the changes in the workforce? In the past decade, employers have outsourced jobs to emerging job markets outside the U.S. while replacing other full-time jobs with non-traditional workers (including contractors, part-time workers, freelancers, and temporary workers).
The Five Finch Effect Strategies
- Adopt a gig mindset. This strategy is all about taking ownership of your career, creating your own career ladders to move your career forward. (The gig economy involves piecing together multiple jobs and projects rather than working in a full-time position with one employer; some experts refer to this strategy as Portfolio Careers.)
- Identify your professional value. This strategy focuses on discovering, communicating, and leveraging the key personal and professional traits that help you stand out from other workers/job-seekers. One of the key tools for accomplishing this strategy is developing what Carson calls your adaptive professional brand (APB). (Read an excerpt from The Finch Effect that explains the APB — and how you can develop yours.)
- Cultivate your skills. This strategy is all about managing your professional development — enhancing the key skills that comprise your brand and help differentiate you from others. Carson recommends working to improve your top 5 to 7 skills; then, choosing just one of those skills to refine and showcase as what she labels as your centerpiece skill. How do you upgrade your skills? Consider formal training, informal training or apprenticeships, and self-taught opportunities.
- Nurture your social network. This strategy is about learning to communicate and grow your professional brand through social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you have existing social-media accounts, the first step is to clean them up and refocus them on the brand you want to portray. Social media provide a great opportunity for both brand enhancement and networking, but a challenge, Carson reminds readers, is finding the right time-spent-to-rewards ratio.
- Harness your entrepreneurial energy, taking ownership of your career. This strategy revolves around developing a creative approach to find and win new jobs, establish new income streams, and build the value of your brand. Carson states that the top professionals she spoke to understand that others may present you with opportunities, but that often, to best advance your career, you need to create them yourself.
Final Thoughts on The Finch Effect
The way to succeed — the way to move your career forward — is to decide to take charge of your career — take ownership of you career. The strategies that Carson provides readers can help any level of job-seeker to successfully manage the changing elements of today’s job market.
Finally, The Finch Effect is not about success by beating down others, but lifting yourself up. Carson states, “We do not need to step on each other or beat each other down, or climb over one another to earn the title of the Fittest [those taking their own career fates in hand]; we simply need to take ownership of our future and draw from our unique set of experiences and skills.”
Read an excerpt from The Finch Effect, The Value of Creating an Adaptive Professional Brand.
For additional information on taking charge of your career, see also:
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.
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