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Finding the Career That Fits You
The Companion Workbook to Your Career in Changing Times
By Larry Burkett, Lee Ellis
Moody PublishersCopyright © 1998 Larry Burkett and Lee Ellis
All rights reserved.
FACING CAREER AND WORKPLACE ISSUES
Since you are reading this workbook, it's likely that either you or someone close to you is facing a career problem or decision. You're not alone. Career and work issues are having a major impact on the lives of millions of Americans today.
Through our experience in administering a career assessment to over 50,000 individuals, we see that the vast majority of career problems fall into one of four categories: job mismatch, no job, returning to the workforce, or young people with no direction. You probably will be able to identify with at least one of these groups. No matter which group you're in, this workbook can help you work through your career issues.
WHICH CAREER PROBLEM FITS YOUR SITUATION
1. Job mismatch—unenthusiastic, bored, stressed out
A major issue with adults continues to be job and career dissatisfaction. There are millions of people who don't like what they are doing at work. In fact, according to a recent poll, 50 percent of those surveyed said that if they were starting over they would choose a different career.
When experiencing a lack of fulfillment and corresponding low motivation toward work, many people realize they did not make a good career choice. They chose a field of work that was not a good match. Many are looking for a way to find out what their talents are and what occupations might fit.
We've seen some who are stressed, even to the point of not wanting to go to work in the morning. For some, the problem of job stress is o severe they are having health problems.
One person put it this way: "I make a living at my job, but I don't look forward to going to work everyday. In fact I usually dread it, and when I'm there I look forward to five o'clock so I can go home. I wish I could make a career transition."
A person in sales said: "I can make a big sale on Friday, but I hate my job so much that I don't look forward to going to work on Monday."
2. Don't have a job—have been laid off or downsized
Mergers and cutbacks have added millions to the ranks of the unemployed—some for the first time.
"I had been with this company for 15 years and was the marketing manager for the Northeast region. Our company was bought out in a merger, and I was replaced by the guy who had a similar position with the parent company. I've been unemployed for 10 months and have no hope of a good job."
Another person said, "I worked for 'XYZ' Corporation for 12 years and thought my future was quite secure. Our company restructured, and they cut 10 percent of the management staff. I haven't been able to find employment and probably never will get back into my old field."
These cutbacks have had a tremendous impact on families. For those who have experienced downsizing, it's much like a death in the family or a divorce. As a wife whose husband is in the throes of a job search put it, "My husband's unemployment has caused tremendous stress in our family—financially, emotionally, and spiritually."
3. Entering/reentering the workforce—lacking confidence, experience, skills, and direction
This group has expanded rapidly in recent years. Some are homemakers who have decided to pursue a career now that their children are older or have left home. Others have felt the pain and hardship of divorce and now, as single parents, must go to work to provide for their families.
Entering the workforce as an adult can be a scary thought. Many who are in this position don't have any idea which direction to pursue. Others may know what they would like to do, yet they haven't kept up with the changes in their fields. Should they go to school, or should they just take entry jobs and try to get established in the workplace?
How do you gain the confidence needed to succeed at what seems like a monumental task? It comes from knowing your talents, making a commitment to develop and use them, and following a plan of action. For many in this group, just getting started at some level can give these individuals the experience and confirmation of their abilities they need to really bloom.
A lady who just received her "first full-time paycheck in sixteen years" put it this way: "When our boys reached teen age and I was ready to do something else ... a career assessment seemed a logical place to start. I believed the Lord was directing me to ... get back my office skills and develop my computer skills. I began to work part-time ... at the same time going through the career assessment and counseling. I gained many skills working for the past two years, but the most important thing I gained was my self-confidence ... to stretch myself and not to be afraid of what I don't know."
4. Young people facing the future with no career direction
The problems facing young people and their career decisions are multifaceted. First, they have had little exposure to the world of work, so they don't know much about what is available. Second, in general there is no good system in place at home, school, or church to help them make good decisions. Consequently, youth often choose an occupation out of ignorance or choose based on the current trends and values of society.
Additionally, the lack of academic motivation in students is at least partly related to their lack of a career goal. Dr. Cliff Schimmels, Christian author and educator, says that "motivation is the ability of the learner to see the applied value of the lesson to be learned." If young people have no career goals and know little about work, they see no purpose for their learning. Hence, when high school students are asked the question "How was school today?", too often we hear another verse of "Boring."
Young people who go to college also suffer from a lack of career direction. Low motivation, no direction, and poorly defined career goals, such as "I want to make a lot of money," have costly consequences. Unfocused students flunk out, change majors, or flounder around, expecting one day to graduate and get a good job. Unfortunately, many who do graduate still have no idea what their talents are or what they want to do.
The waste in classroom time, lives, talent, and productivity is discouraging; and, with the rapid inflation in college costs, the expense of misdirected education and training is becoming significant.
One parent put it this way. "We educated our son through four years of college and three years of law school. He's practiced law for two years and, now, he hates it. In fact, he has quit. He says he wants to go back to school to prepare for a new career field, but we can't afford to help him anymore. When I think of all his effort and the money we invested, I could just cry."
The categories above are representative, and we know that there are others. For example, we didn't mention it, but retirement career decisions have become an important issue for many.
However, we believe that the previous illustrations are adequate to point out that career problems are widespread, and they cut across all lines of age and gender.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE WORKPLACE?
We've given you some insights into the career issues people are facing. Now let's take a quick overview of the change factors that are affecting the world of work.
RAPID TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE. New technology continues to expand at an ever increasing rate, highly affecting the way work is done. Robotic tools have replaced many assembly line jobs. We live in the Information Age, and the Internet has provided worldwide access to almost any information we need.
Low-cost technology has made it possible for small companies to compete with the giants. Often, speed to market determines success; and this can be to the advantage of the smaller, newer, and more flexible companies. In some cases, the new technologies enable overseas companies, where labor and raw materials may be cheaper, to operate at a better profit margin.
WORLDWIDE ECONOMIC COMPETITION. The expansion of technology has brought incredible market competition on a worldwide scale. This competition erodes profit margins, which causes companies to continually seek ways of cutting costs—of doing business more efficiently. This relentless drive to cut costs often brings drastic changes to the workplace.
REVOLUTIONARY CHANGES IN WORK STRUCTURE. Since personnel costs are usually the biggest percentage of the budget, downsizing, rightsizing, and layoffs have become a way of life. Layoffs are probably necessary to maintain a healthy economy. Through the use of technology, many industries now operate more efficiently with fewer people. The push for corporate mergers often is related to the anticipated efficiencies from personnel reductions.
At the same time, organizational structures are being flattened so that more work is done by teams that have been empowered to carry out major projects. Projects come and go as contracts come and go; so finding a job may mean finding a new project that can utilize your talents.
The downsizing movement has given impetus for many people to leave the corporate world to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurism is growing at a rapid pace, so we can expect more small companies to spring up to provide work. But, usually, new companies also are more unstable, which adds to the insecurity in the workplace.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO YOU?
YOU MUST BE ABLE TO MARKET YOUR TALENTS. As you can see, the one constant is going to be change; and, if the past is an indicator, change will continue at an increasing rate. This means that you need to be flexible; you need to know your talents, interests, and passions; and you need to be able to market yourself into a job that fits you.
The word "market" may sound scary, but it just means that you have to be able to describe to someone exactly what you do very well. Even more important may be the need for you to find organizations that match your values and that have a need for someone with a passion to do what you want to do. More and more, companies are realizing how important it is to match the right person to the needs of the job. By knowing the career that fits you and by marketing yourself accordingly, you are helping employers in that talent search.
Where Is Your Job Security?
All this leads us to believe that jobs will be more transient in the future than they have been in the past. As many have found out, over the long haul you cannot look to your company for job security. We don't think there is such a thing as job security. (There is only one Source you can look to for any security in this world.) But we can assure you that the best way to increase your odds of being employed is to know your talents, develop them, and be truly excellent in your work.
Since jobs are insecure, you will have to be flexible; and that's why it's so important for you to know how to find a career that fits you. We don't like to tell people just one specific occupation in which they can excel. That will help them only until the next layoff occurs. Rather, our approach has always been to show them their pattern of talents and help them to see that their talents can be applied in a variety of settings.
As we said in the Introduction, this workbook is designed to lead you through a process that will equip you to know your God-given talents and understand how to find your calling. Our prayer is that you will place your confidence in the One who gave you your talents and be a good steward of them by being faithful to your calling.
Begin now by faithfully working your way through each chapter. We think you'll enjoy seeing how God has wonderfully equipped you for the journey on your career pathway. And in time, we trust you'll have a clear view of your calling and life purpose.CHAPTER 2
GAINING A BIBLICAL VIEW OF WORK
The main purpose of this workbook is to help you discover your talents and interests. After all, they are the keys to finding your calling and the career that fits you.
However, many people have a hard time keeping their talents in focus when they start looking for a job. That's why this chapter is designed to prepare you thoroughly with the truth that can set you free to make sound career decisions. We don't want you to get sidetracked by the temptation to pursue an occupation just because it's on someone's "hot jobs" list.
THE BEST CAREER GUIDANCE COMES FROM BIBLICAL TRUTH
To encourage you to stick with God's principles of career planning, we will lead you through a short study to see what the Bible has to say on the subject. A thorough grounding in God's truth is your best defense against career mismatch.
Read the following verses to discover some of the truths that should guide your planning.
1. You were uniquely designed by God.
a. Psalm 119:73 says that God __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
b. Isaiah 44:2 says that the Lord________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
c. Job 10:11 says that you were_________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
d. Psalm 139: verse 13 says that you were________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
verse 14 says that you were________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
verse 15 says that you were________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
2. Your talents are unique for a purpose.
a. Romans 12:4 implies that we do not all______________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
b. Romans 12:6 says that we have_____________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
and that each person should _______________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
c. First Peter 4:10 says that we should____________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
d. First Corinthians 12:18-20 indicates that God has made us different because________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
3. To be excellent in your work, you should develop your talents.
a. Proverbs 24:27 indicates that priority should be given to_________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
b. Proverbs 22:29 implies that those who will have the most job security will be________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
c. In the parable in Matthew 25:14-30, what does Jesus indicate that we are to do with our talents?_______________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
d. Colossians 3:23 says that we are to_________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
4. Your vocational calling provides an important opportunity for your higher calling.
a. Matthew 5:14 says that we are___________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
and Matthew 5:16 tells us to_______________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
b. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the apostle Paul tells us that we are to be________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
c. Colossians 3:17 indicates that we should do everything in ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
d. First Corinthians 10:31 says that the purpose of everything we do is ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
The principles you just reviewed from the Scripture provide the foundation for good career decisions. But it will take a strong commitment of faith on your part to act on them. You see, the secular world in which we live has another set of principles and priorities. They aren't written out, but they are so well accepted that, often, even some Christians never realize that God offers a better way.
If you are tempted to follow the world's priorities, stop and remember that God's way often looks foolish to the natural eye (see 1 Corinthians 2:14); but to the man or woman of faith it is the prerequisite to honoring Him and the doorway to receiving His blessings.
There are two practical implications we should draw from these biblical principles that are fundamental to good career decisions.
A. Round Pegs Fit Round Holes
We all know some version of the saying about putting a round peg in a square hole; the implication is that it doesn't work because it won't fit. That's exactly why so many people have been unable to really enjoy their work. They don't fit.
Putting the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole is the basic concept for finding a career that fits. It sounds simple, but there are two problems.
First, many people completely ignore trying to find a match. They've been told, "You can do anything if you set your mind to it," so they choose their career based on criteria other than their talents.
Second, many people don't have a clear picture of what their talents are. They may make some bad assumptions about their strengths, or they may be steered by those around them who also may not have an objective view.
This situation is addressed specifically in a recent book entitled Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Here are their comments.
"Boundaries are where our identity comes from. Boundaries define what is me and what is not me. Our work is part of our identity because it taps into our particular giftedness and the exercise of those gifts in the community.
"However, many people are unable to ever find a true work identity. They stumble from job to job, never really finding anything that is 'them.' More often than not, this is a boundary problem. They have not been able to own their own gifts, talents, wants, desires, and dreams because they are unable to set boundaries on others' definitions and expectations of them."
Excerpted from Finding the Career That Fits You by Larry Burkett, Lee Ellis. Copyright © 1998 Larry Burkett and Lee Ellis. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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