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An Unloved Job: Moving On

Edward De Bono (the creative thinking guru) says “you can’t dig a new hole by making the existing hole bigger”

Faced with a job that does not engage and that offers little in the way of advancement the temptation is often to put in more hours, work harder, volunteer for difficult assignments and so on, in order to impress others and gain a more fulfilling job. But in doing this are we merely making the existing hole bigger (as De Bono would say?) And, besides, trying to impress by working harder does not always pay off for a variety of reasons.

Essentially if you are in a job that makes you seriously unhappy, you owe to yourself to at least consider moving on from that much unloved job. In De Bono’s words, you should consider digging a new hole.

Obviously the decision to do so should not be taken lightly. But it need not be high risk: taking a sideways move, for instance, may be an option. In fact anything that brings challenge and novelty into your life will bring with it creativity and happiness which in turn can lead to a rejuvenated career.

80/20 Rule of CV Preparation

There are lots of examples of this rule, as you might expect. One concerns gym membership. Eighty percent (or thereabouts) of gym members attend only twenty percent of the time available. The other twenty percent of members attend eighty percent of the time (and reap the benefits). Note that both sets of people have the same initial motivation: to get fit and healthy. But only a minority follows through by attending regularly. And normally only this minority achieves a positive outcome.

The same thing applies to submitting CVs. Everyone submits a CV in anticipation of a positive outcome –an invitation to interview. But only a minority follows through with a thorough proof reading for spelling errors, incorrect grammar, out of date timelines, and fuzzy presentation.

A badly prepared CV irritates recruiters and increases the likelihood of its ending up in the “reject” pile. A well constructed one is much more likely to end up in the “call for interview” pile. Just like the 80/20 rule, only a minority will reap the benefit of an invitation to interview. That’s the 80/20 rule of CV preparation

Asking for post-interview feedback

I have always given time and attention to the task of giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates. I have never used the dreaded phrase “it just wasn’t your day” and I have by and large stuck to the rules in giving feedback.

But of course, everyone is different and a “one size” feedback conversation will not fit all. Most of us say we want honest and direct feedback (and some even mean it..) but others may not be ready for such candid feedback, at least not for now.

As a result I’ve tended at times to rely on my intuition and experience to figure out if the candidate really does want, or is capable of hearing, honest feedback at this time. I then temper my feedback accordingly

Learning to be creative

Archimedes had his eureka moment while relaxing in the bath (not while toiling in his laboratory.)

Sometimes people complain of not being creative or at least not being creative enough for the workplace or for essay writing for college.

So, what to do? Can you make yourself more creative? Or must you be born with the creative gene? I am not sure of the answers to those questions (although the internet is weighed down with zillions of “how to be creative” content just waiting to be downloaded). However experience has taught me this much:

If you have been working diligently on, for instance, a college essay or a work project for many months but that creative breakthrough remains elusive, you are unlikely to catch inspiration by continuing to put in the hours at your desk or workstation.

So, do what Archimedes did. Take a break. (It doesn’t have to be a bath). Climb a mountain, go dancing, swim in a lake – whatever it takes to take your mind off your project, do it.

We have all head stories of boffins waking up from sleep with the solution to a problem that had eluded them for years. But recent brain science research is now showing us that we can indeed spark our creativity by putting aside momentarily the difficult task on which we are working and engaging in a new, unrelated activity. It’s not that you will not think at all about your project while taking your break. The research says that you will think about it, but you will do so subliminally or subconsciously. And that subconscious part of our brain can be more creative that the conscious part