On July 29th, Angelenos experienced a jolting but relatively mild earthquake. Always, interesting to see how people react to these types of unexpected events. Newbies to earthquakes are horrified that "the earth moved" and veterans of the tectonic shifts cooly say "I think that was a 5.2". Regardless of your point of view it always gets one thinking about their preparation for a bigger quake and whether their earthquake kits are updated.... In other words when something shakes you up, it can wake you up--even if it is a fleeting reality check.
By the same token, this crazy economy and the instability of many venerable institutions has justifiably disrupted the career sleepwalking of many. You know the robotic habits and motions of some of the "happily" employed. Change can trigger a new awareness of the world around them and what they may want in their lives. Like their earthquake kit, they hurriedly explore their career briefcase and find its meager contents a bit dated--raising questions, "How long can I survive/thrive with this?" Most of those people go back to a post earthquake slumber, others react in desperate ways, and a few take a serious inventory of where they are and what the want.
My worldview is often clouded by the second group--the reactors. Requests for informational interviews, resume reviews, general networking are at all time highs. Never seen anything like it in all my days of trying to help people. While I have always advocated agreeing to these requests, especially if they come from warm sources, people I know and trust. But is a symptom of the ground shaking that people are feeling. Many people who go on these meetings are poorly prepared. They think something lucky will happen just by meeting someone new and have not thought about what they want. The outcomes from these meetings would be dramatically improved if they had done their homework and treated them as "real" interviews. It is well documented that every encounter with a potential employer or referrer is a real interview. I provide these requesters with my SWIVEL doc. It is the pre-req for my sessions. My attempt at getting the interviewee to pause and reflect on what is important to them. Fill it out yourself. Download swivel_new.doc
The third group, those that have decided to listen to their heart and re-discover their calling, I love meeting with them. They are on a focused track to explore career options that they have entertained for many years or just realized. They are not looking for a job but a life's work. They have decided not to settle for what they get but pursue what they want. What a joy to meet them and to draft off their momentum and energy.
Lastly, whenever you get any warm requests for your time, advice, and help, and you may be getting more too, treat them as great opportunities instead of burdensome chores. Believe me, you will get more out of it than you ever give. These interviews yield a rich conversation about who you are and why you do what you do. It will force you to say and think things you have not contemplated for awhile. It will force you to appreciate what is good and identify some new clues about your own path Plus you will help someone you don't know and a member of your network! It is a win-win-win!
In this unpredictable world we have to help each other and we have to wake ourselves up and take inventory-- are we are prepared for next unexpected shake-up?
"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Coach John Wooden