Questions and Answers with Career Expert Janet Scarborough Civitelli
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.
Janet Scarborough Civitelli, Ph.D., is a therapist who specializes in career development and management and is the owner of VocationVillage.com.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest myth about job-hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| There are two myths that I see over and over again. The first myth is that the Internet has created a climate in which a passive job searcher can post his/her resume on Friday and wait for the offers to come rolling in on Monday. This kind of response happens only for persons with highly marketable skills and a documented track record of success using those skills. For most people, there still exists the need to build relationships to increase the probability of being in the right place at the right time to land the best job for you. This is especially true for career changers.
The second myth is that the more general you are about what you want to do, the more opportunities you will have. In fact, it is just the opposite. Simply clarifying a specific career goal and adding a focused positioning to your resume does wonders to increase marketability for many people. Hiring managers will not take the time to determine for you what a good match should be with your interests, values, and abilities.
What underlies both of these myths is failure to recognize that hiring managers like to avoid risk. They like to hire people about whom they already know something, even if the connection is as tenuous as someone within the company knows someone else who recommended the hire. Hiring managers like to hire people who seem clear about what they want to do and have some previous success in doing it, because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. That’s why career changers can dramatically increase their marketability by getting some experience in whatever they want to do next, whether through a part-time job, volunteer work, or project-based work in a class.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||How do advise clients on how they can achieve work-life integration?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The first step in achieving integration is to become very clear about what you want. The second step is to develop very marketable skills so that you have bargaining power. And the third step is to become adept at negotiating, because you won’t often get the reward of work-life integration if you aren’t willing to ask for it.
The more solid are your professional strengths, the better will be your ability to create a life on your terms. If you are employed by an organization and your abilities are contributing to the bottom line in an integral way, they will be much more likely to accept your insistence that you need a schedule that includes telecommuting or flextime. Similarly, if you are self-employed and you have worked to ensure that your skills are top-notch and you can effectively market them to create demand, you have the freedom to put limits on your availability so you can pursue a balanced life.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the key to interpersonal effectiveness in the workplace? Or conversely, what is the biggest stumbling block to interpersonal effectiveness?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The biggest barrier to interpersonal effectiveness in the workplace is to make the erroneous assumption that successful people got that way through being born lucky or naturally gifted. This is rarely the case, and believing it to be true sets one up to feel helpless about setting and attaining one’s own career goals. Successful people are usually optimistic, persistent, and good at either working within an organization or forging an independent career path. However, in the areas in which they feel challenged or inadequate, they seek skills training or coaching to polish their abilities.
The good news is that the areas that cause people the most trouble are changeable. If you find yourself fighting with your boss in every job you have held, that’s a pattern that can be altered. If you keep getting passed over for the plum assignments in your department, you can learn to be a more strategic player. If every setback causes you to fall into a month-long funk, you can learn to be more resilient and hopeful. It takes time, energy, and hard work, but the rewards are well worth it.
|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:|| The “best way” for a client to discover his/her career passion varies depending on his/her temperament and preferred style. Some clients can make great decisions after reading about many different career paths, while others need to do something experiential with each option in order to make a decision. Some people need to do more exploration, while others need to muster the courage to commit to something. Some clients need to raise their expectations, while others need to learn to tolerate imperfection and the normal routine frustrations inherent in any option.
Career assessment is usually very helpful, but the interpretation is often most useful in the context of a helping relationship. Data alone can be more confusing than clarifying, which is why I am not enthusiastic about most online career assessment. My experience has shown me that the most valuable part of the assessment often comes from the process of exploring ambivalence, contradictions, and inconsistencies between the real self and the ideal self. Most online career assessments fail miserably when evaluated according to the ethical standards of good test administration and interpretation.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||In what ways do you believe technology will continue to change job-seeking and the career development field?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Some things will change and some things will not. Technology will never change the basic truth that relationship-building is the most essential component of career development. What will change is the means through which relationships are started, grown, and maintained. The Internet facilitates ease of communication, especially for introverts. Introverts really appreciate that e-mail affords them the opportunity to craft reflective messages and to manage the number and timing of interactions.
Because communication is growing increasingly global, a person’s career network can include persons from a much larger geographic area. This expansion can be really exciting and fun. I would not have met [QuintZine editor] Kathy Hansen, for instance, if I had not participated in ProfessionalJobTalk, a networking forum for career-development professionals.
The Internet also offers a tremendous opportunity for free agents and entrepreneurs to sell their products and services directly to consumers. When I first began my career counseling practice, I built a simple Website. Most of my first clients found me via the Web. It was a rewarding, inexpensive way for me to start my business.
Janet Scarborough Civitelli, Ph.D., is a vocational psychologist (TX #34252) specializing in career counseling, coaching, and consulting, as well as the owner of VocationVillage.com. Her expertise is helping clients create work that they love. Some of Scarborough’s current interests are assisting clients to create careers to allow for fulfilling integration of diverse life interests, coaching introverts to utilize their strengths in advancing their careers, and consulting with high-achieving individuals to increase their interpersonal effectiveness in work and personal spheres.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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