Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Make the Right Career Move by Rachelle J. Canter

Two years ago when I was going through my last job transition I forked out some of my own money and got one of those personality/aptitude profiles done by a business psychologist. It was a helpful experience—giving me some additional insight into my own natural tendencies and helping me identify some areas that would likely always challenge me. The deal included an unspecified number of future follow-up visits with the psychologist if I wanted to discuss or explore possibilities associated with my results.

Well, last month I took them up on their offer and went to go see them. I think they were a little surprised to hear from me after two years, but honored the deal and made the appointment. I was looking for someone impartial—impartial and with detailed knowledge about me and my professional profile—to respond to some thoughts I've been having about my future career direction. I'm not looking to make a job change anytime soon, but I've always wanted to know what road I was traveling on and, for the first time since choosing association management as my profession, I've been feeling like I'm not sure what my next logical step is.

Among a lot of other things we discussed, the psychologist recommended I read Make the Right Career Move by Rachelle J. Canter. The recommendation was really, I think, just for the book's first section—which talks about how to define the best future job for yourself—and not the rest of the book—which talks about how to write a resume, interview properly, and land that job. But you know me. Once I start reading something I just can't put it down until it's done. I made it through The Silmarillon, after all, and only gave up on Juneteenth because it was an audio book.

So, how was Make the Right Career Move? It was all right. A lot of the stuff I read in the part that wasn't recommended to me echoed a lot of the advice I used to give people when I worked in outplacement. The book is clearly and unabashedly geared for CEOs, high-powered attorneys and other societal movers and shakers. Most of the time this perspective was refreshing. It assumed the reader had the gumption and gravitas to make things happen in their lives, and that makes it different from a lot of other books in this genre. But, sorry to say, sometimes this perspective just got downright funny. Case in point, from the section about setting career goals:

Identify conflicts or dependencies among the priority goals: Is reaching one goal at odds with reaching another, or is reaching one apt to increase the chances to reach another? For example, a career goal of being CEO of a Fortune 500 company is likely to conflict with a relationship goal of spending nights and weekends with the family, but may be likely to increase the chances of learning to play golf well.

Not everyone will find this funny. After all, there are people in the world who have life goals that include: (1) Be CEO of a Fortune 500 company; (2) Spend nights and weekends with the family; and (3) Learn to play golf well. But I'm not one of them.

But even if the examples got kind of entertaining, I think the underlying process Canter describes for identifying the characteristics of your ideal job—based on your skills, goals, and satisfiers and dissatisfiers—is a good one. I would probably attempt to use it to help me get a better handle on my skills, goals, satisfiers and dissatisfiers, if I hadn't just done Marcus Buckingham's strength exercise from The Truth About You.


  1. I found it funny. It tends to pigeonhole people who are leaders of organizations, doesn't it? It assumes a lot about them, in terms of whether they would even be making choices among those options. I doubt whether someone who has reached that far in an organization would need to read a statement like that at that stage in their careers.