Your career structure is the same as David Beckham’s, whether you like him or not

David Beckham is one of the icons of our age, whether you like him or not. Yet in career terms there is no difference between you and he in the sense that he sells his services in return for cash and soft benefits. It’s just that there are probably more zeros in his revenue stream than yours. What’s notable about his career is the way it’s managed by a plethora of sophisticated and highly professional managers. This keeps his career on track as it does any business. Similarly you are a professional services firm on legs and the business of your career requires management whether you do it yourself or you get someone else to do it. With the demise of the social contract between employers and employees there is a growing management vacuum particularly at the top end. I believe this will be filled not, by career consultants, coaches, mentors or outplacement providers but by career management consultants (CMCs) with front line business experience with a blend of management consulting and managing agency skills as in sport and the arts. Who knows, in twenty years time there may even be a Big 4 of career mangement consulting?

Ciaran Fenton
Fenton & Co LLP

A job interview is about selling the services of a micro-business. All the art and science of selling applies.

Job interviews are no different to any other professional services sales pitch save that, as a micro-business, you are looking for soft benefits as well as cash. The aggregated learning around the art and science of good quality selling applies. There are hundreds of books on the subject. I believe these can be reduced to seven steps in an interview, provided you feel that the interviewer has the emotional intelligence to operate on an honest “adult-adult” basis. Otherwise, you may need to moderate the following approach:

– surface “the need”, very accurately
– demonstrate, rather than assert, your ability to meet the need
– ask where you tick the boxes and, precisely, where you don’t, especially if this is about “chemistry”
– address any negatives head-on; they are looking for reassurance, not perfection. Nobody is perfect, not even the interviewer
– ask for explicit feedback on where you compare unfavourably against the competition; offer specific reassurances on these. Ground their fears and address them candidly. This coud be the deal breaker for you
– don’t forget to ASK for the job, as in a sale. This may feel uncomfortable
– above all, leave the interview knowing as much as possible about where you stand. If the outcome is a surprise you haven’t sold properly. They either need you or they don’t. Either way the outcome must be a win-win for both parties.

Ciaran Fenton
Fenton & Co LLP

Send “outplacement” to Room 101

The Cambridge Business Dictionary defines outplacement as “help with finding a new job that a company gives to someone they can no longer employ” and declares it a noun. But the word does not match this definition. The word suggests that companies find jobs for leavers. They don’t. They help by paying providers to do so. The word literally means “placing outside”, not helping to find a job. In this the word is accurate and a synonym for redundancy. So the word represents yet another fudge in the language we use around how we manage relationships at work. Does this matter? I think it’s critical for economic survival in the 21st. Century that we reframe our working relationships more authentically and this is reflected in our use of language. People are as cynical about “outplacement” as they are about “employee engagement” and all the other double speak in so-called “human resource” management. Who wants to be a human resource? I propose that “outplacement” is sent to Room 101 and replaced by Alumni Programmes.

Ciaran Fenton