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Getting your career mapped out

Some jobseekers tend to change jobs without thinking long term. Once the going gets tough and job opportunities less, it's normally a question of last in, first out. Those who have weathered the storms, met the challenges of a chosen career and gained experience of each step on the way, will find themselves more confident and with better bargaining power than job-hoppers.

“Hanging on to a job with a clear vision of the next and ultimate destination is a more sensible option,” confirms Viv Gordon of Viv Gordon Placements.

Her agency spends substantial time with candidates, strategically working out how to achieve long- and short term goals. As Career Path Finders rather than mere “job hunters”, they work out what skills and experiences have to be gained at each destination on a career map to enable the candidate to reach his or her ultimate destination.

Viv Gordon Placements has sound knowledge of the personal characteristics and skills required for each employment opportunity, as each of its consultants has specialised experience of a certain field, enabling the agency to assess the “culture-fit” of a candidate to a company. “When such a match comes about, it truly enriches the working experience,” says Gordon.

To stay on a career path means that the candidate has to overcome the challenges associated with that route, rather than run away from them, in order to grow in seniority and maturity. With it come the soft skills that are critical for success in a managerial position.

Gordon identifies constant deadlines, environments that are not challenging enough for creative people and being in positions that they are not quite ready for as the main reasons why South Africans in marketing, PR and publishing are looking around for other jobs.

“In today's world many companies are under-staffed. Employees can't take the pressure and get burn-out.”

She also recognises the shortage of experienced staff to guide junior employees at each destination on their career path as a problem. “Employees need this crucial influence. If there is no input from a mentor, they often leave.”

Those who reveal enough ambition, loyalty and commitment by overcoming the challenges of long, hard hours and by going beyond the call of duty, will in many cases find themselves promoted with a prospect of higher remuneration being translated into lifestyle improvement, says Gordon.

A job can either be a position of little interest, stimulation or experience of value for the next step along the career path, or it can fulfil these needs and become a step in the right direction.

“Such an appropriate ‘job' on a career path will offer relevant skills, both ‘soft' and ‘hard', which will give employees the edge over competitors when applying for more senior positions.”

To determine whether a career move is a good one, the agency assesses the skills that will be learnt in the new position and whether these will be relevant to the candidate's ultimate goal. The management will also be scrutinised to ensure that the employee gains a new mentor. “This will be someone who will inspire them to greatness and will be happy and secure enough to impart knowledge and wisdom,” explains Gordon.

“Our definition of job satisfaction is keeping the balance between being fairly paid and being stimulated by a job well done.”

30 Jul 2008 16:22