Questions and Answers with Career Expert Carol A. Poore
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Carol A. Poore, MBA is the author of Building Your Career Portfolio (Career Press).
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the one job-hunting secret you share with clients/students but that may not be widely known?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| I call volunteerism a career “secret weapon” because it’s an investment that can enable you to gain new skills and add a passionate cadre of focused, caring, committed people into your professional network.
Volunteerism is key if you want to expand your skills and scope of influence beyond your job. It can be the perfect answer, not only if you desire successful lifework, but hunger to reap the rewards of living purposefully. And, the network of valuable volunteer contacts can help you land on your feet in case you lose your job to downsizing, mergers/acquisitions, or numerous other causes of marketplace risk.
Volunteerism is valuable for:
Consider Mandy, a college student who travels voluntarily with Jerry Lewis during his Muscular Dystrophy campaigns. Afflicted with MD, but able to occasionally travel, Mandy has been a national representative for MD research and prevention. When she graduates from college with a communication degree, Mandy will have cultivated an influential circle of valuable celebrity and business contacts from which to launch her career.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Briefly, could you explain your concept of “career investment?”|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| When you make wise career investments, you can mitigate career risk — otherwise known as the pitfalls of marketplace change, economic turndowns, downsizing, personal health and life changes, and distasteful company politics that can wreak havoc with one’s life.
To help people minimize career risk and maximize opportunity and personal fulfillment, I have developed an investment model called CareerPortfolio¢ — a career risk-management approach, similar to building a financial portfolio, that can help you develop four, specific career assets, or “investments.” Why four? Because these four ingredients offer a well-balanced opportunity for you to earn, learn, and help others throughout the rest of your life. And, like a financial portfolio, you can diversify risk so that you always have a number of career options on tap.
The four CareerPortfolio¢ assets are:
Your Primary Income Investment represents your largest career focus, whether you are employed or own your own business. Whether it’s your job, or your own business, the ideal Primary Income Investment is meaningful and enjoyable.
Financial parallel: Your Primary Income Investment is much like investing in a Blue Chip stock or mutual fund composed of Blue Chip stocks.
Whether you are employed or own your own business, adding a Secondary Income Investment to your CareerPortfolio¢ is an excellent way to learn new skills, create career options, and earn extra income in the process. This investment is an alternate source of income that you control. It is not a second job working for someone else. It could be an annual project, a financial investment that you manage, or a hobby that provides you with an alternate income source, such as singing at weddings. If you own a business, it could mean diversifying your business into separate functions or product lines.
Financial parallel: Your Secondary Income Investment is similar to investing in a higher-risk stock. Higher-risk stocks, under the right circumstances, may earn greater returns than lower-risk investments but are less consistent or predictable than the blue chip stocks.
Volunteer Investments can provide you with opportunities to develop new skills, meet other community leaders, and contribute your talents to benefit others.
Financial parallel: Volunteering your time and mental focus is similar to investing money in bonds. Bonds are lower-risk investment vehicles compared to stocks, and the return on investment grows over a longer period of time. With volunteerism, you are “loaning” your expertise and time in return for new experiences not found in your current duties. Volunteer Investments are not a “get-rich-quick” strategy.
Three specific Lifelong Learning Investments can help you grow your career wealth by leaps and bounds:
Financial parallel: Lifelong Learning Investments are similar to cash. Cash is highly liquid and is used on-the-spot when needed. Your Lifelong Learning Investments are easy to deploy and can be immediately applied to most any career and life situation.
Editor’s note: See also Poore’s article on Quintessential Careers, Building Your Career Portfolio: Four Career Investments for a Purposeful Lifetime.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Why do you feel it is necessary to begin developing a CareerPortfolio with a statement of personal purpose?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Your personal purpose statement provides the umbrella investment strategy to help you make career decisions that are right for you. Your personal purpose statement can help you shore up your sense of identity, because it describes who you are, and what your life’s passion is all about. It can help you regroup during times of crisis. And, it can help you focus on the special contributions only you can make, so that each day of your precious life can be spent in the most meaningful, productive way.
By understanding your personal purpose, you can make a profound difference in your world, or sphere of influence.
Having a personal purpose is like having an investment strategy. It guides your career and life investments so you can achieve the most meaningful results possible. But sometimes it takes a crisis to force us to slow down, if only for a moment, to ponder what we’re all about.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Thinking “outside the box,” what’s the best way for job-seekers to figure out what career will give them the greatest happiness?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Once a person has a sense of his or her personal purpose, he or she can focus on the types of careers that help fulfill that purpose. For example, my purpose is to be a thought leader, helping others find and fulfill their purpose. There are a number of careers that could help me fulfill this purpose. A critical criteria, however, is to be a thought leader. My career selection would need to provide opportunities to be sharing insights that are on the leading edge. That’s why I’ve selected the pathway of public speaking and writing, among other types of business consulting.
I do believe that discovering your purpose is a process. Spend some quiet time by yourself, and take the following steps.
Answer these important questions.
Observe themes and patterns that indicate your areas of passion and skill. Write your observations here.
Summarize those themes, starting with “I believe the purpose of my life is to:”
Complete the sentence in any manner that helps you capture the essence of what you’re about. Some people may choose to describe their purpose in free-flowing paragraphs. Others use descriptive words, or short, “bulleted” statements.
I believe the purpose of my life is to:
Reflect on your life as it relates to your personal purpose. Assess whether your career and life decisions align with, support, or fail to support the purpose statement that you developed. Make changes as you discover areas of disconnect.
Revisit and revise your personal purpose over time. Sharpen your thoughts as you make additional discoveries about your life’s direction. I do believe your personal purpose will evolve over time. It will be influenced by stages and situations in life. It also will be shaped by your personal growth as you gain new skills, experiences and insight.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| I’ve found that most people truly desire to invest their lives in a way that makes a difference and leaves behind a legacy. But for many, being busy gets in the way of being purposeful.
Let’s face it — “busy-ness” is a fact of life in our action-packed world. Most of us are flooded with hundreds of e-mails, pieces of junk mail, and phone messages every week. Technology has sped up our work and our lives. We are bouncing from appointment to appointment, trying to fit all of the demands into each day.
But the sad truth is this: Being busy does not always equal being purposeful.
In fact, being busy can distract you from making the most focused life investments and being the most impactful person you were meant to be. If you’re feeling bombarded by “busy” and hungry for a sense of personal purpose, you are not alone.
Research shows that only 2 percent of today’s workers ever take the time to think about what their life is all about. Two of every hundred!
Why would so few — out of the world’s hard-working, dedicated souls — ever take the time to unwrap the unique and beautiful purpose they, alone, are equipped to share? Why do most people stay in a state of partial consciousness when it comes to fully understanding their core purpose?
Some feel they should live up to other’s expectations rather than living their own life. Some are afraid of success — afraid that putting a purpose to paper might require hard work, commitment and follow-through. Others are fearful of failure, constantly asking, “What happens if I don’t succeed?”
But I’ve found the most common barrier to discovering personal purpose is the fear that it has to be perfectly stated the first time — flawlessly wordsmithed, like some kind of corporate mission statement.
I want to encourage you that this should not be your aim! By putting a few thoughts to paper, you can begin the journey of understanding you.
Carol A. Poore, MBA, provides thought leadership to international audiences in the area of personal purpose and career development from a business strategist’s perspective. Carol’s book, Building Your Career Portfolio, was published by The Career Press, Inc., in 2001. Audiences include American Express, Intel, The Dial Corporation, Make A Difference, World At Work, and numerous leadership institutes and non-for-profit organizations. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to Carol’s Website.
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