The first time I sought out professional career guidance was in the early 90’s recession when you couldn’t buy a job in Perth. The consultant thought the results would be very clear after he glanced through the assessment. Alas for me, that was not the case. When developed the assessment instrument generated a list of 18 jobs, and little in the way of guidance on how to evaluate them. With the benefit of hindsight, gaining a more conscious understanding of what I wanted from my career would have been more helpful. And learning something about what to watch out for with my way of thinking and working to stay on track would have made a substantial improvement to my income over the next 20 years.
In 2012 I consulted a senior member of the career development profession to confirm my suitability for becoming a career adviser. We spent six hours across a couple of weeks making sure this was a good direction for me and for future clients. That was a positive investment and gave me the confidence to work through another stint at uni with definite purpose, something that is essential for me to complete university courses.
My working life started in small businesses not long out of school. It fed an interest in investment goals and methods that has stayed with me through a varied career. The idea that work is something you do primarily to create the foundation of wealth for your desired lifestyle has never left me. Over the decades I have met many people who created enough wealth to live very comfortably just by staying employed in well remunerated jobs and investing their savings conservatively. Then there are other people who created businesses that grew significantly, creating considerably more wealth than most of us ever imagine wanting much less needing.
The first investment course I completed was run by the Securities Institute of Australia. It taught me trading strategies for the futures market. It quickly became apparent that this was quite a different thing to an investment strategy. Since that first course I have explored several approaches to investing — from buy and hold, value investing, growth investing to trend following. These all provide keen insights into how to think about the sorts of careers that are possible after the substantial investment of time, effort and money needed to complete a general Bachelors degree in Business or the Humanities.
One of the key distinctions to bear in mind when growing your wealth is the difference between an investment and a speculative purchase. With career development in a jobs market that waxes and wanes in it’s needs, it can be very speculative to pursue (what is now nearly always very expensive) education and training to enter an occupation, only to discover there are no entry level jobs available in the 2 or 3 years after you graduate. Engineering graduates experienced this fate after the great mining investment boom subsided in 2012. Law graduates have probably endured it every year of the 21st century.
This has led me to think a focus on strengths and skills is the foundation for ongoing employment. Ongoing investment in deliberative skills practice is the core of being so good at things you can develop a network of people who always want you employing those skills for their benefit. As the great Tai Chi master Cheng Man-ch’ing used to say – when it comes to mastery there are no secrets, just practice, and if you aren’t super talented you just have to practice more. It’s a philosophy that holds just as true for occupational skills as it does for the 13 basic postures of Tai Chi.
I take the view that today’s job skills market is both unprecedented in its challenges, and the basis of unparalleled opportunity. It has never provided more rewarding opportunities, and has perhaps never been as difficult to navigate. While the internet has disrupted a great deal about finding well remunerated work, it has done nothing to dent the ongoing importance for career development of having great skills and knowing how to demonstrate mastery to those seeking people with them.
My interest in career counselling has steadily grown since pondering what strategies were needed to navigate the increasingly complex world of work, as it became trickier to land good roles ever since that near depression of the early 90’s. Then there were a couple of years of the boom when better jobs were a little easier to secure. Working life has become increasingly more challenging since the GFC, and yet for those who manage through luck or design to harness a good opportunity, the pathways to financial independence have rarely, if ever been more rewarding
An avid learner my education includes:
- a Bachelor of Arts and Honours degree in Philosophy from Murdoch University.
- 5 years of PhD research in Applied Philosophy and Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne.
- a Graduate Certificate in Career Development from the University of Queensland
- a Diploma of Counselling from Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors
My time now is dedicated to career advice and coaching individuals. I am a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia, and support people trying to establish themselves in a career after university, and professionals actioning mid and late career transitions.
You can find more about my experience and qualifications at Linkedin.