Career Planning For Lawyers – and Everbody Else!
Everybody—regardless of level or profession—would be well served to go through the same process: the Seven Stories Exercise and the Forty-Year Vision. The psychological tests that some companies give to senior executives may assure the hiring company that the applicant is a good fit, but the tests do not address fit from the employee’s point-of view.
This week alone, I met with two unhappy senior executives (one an attorney) who had gone through extensive pre-employment psychological testing. The tests showed that they would fit right in. They didn’t.
One executive’s psychological tests showed her excellent leadership, interpersonal and decision-making skills. But the Seven Stories Exercise and the Forty-Year Vision, which she completed after having joined the firm, helped her define the kind of environment that would be right. She imagined herself five years from now in a relatively small company where she worked with smart, energetic people. She imagined working in a place that was nurturing as well as highly productive. Her Seven Stories revealed that she enjoyed working with other senior women.
The company she had gone to work for had no other senior women; had a cold environment (after three months, no one had reciprocated her invitation to lunch); and the industry would not interest her in the long-run, although it seemed plausible during the interview itself.
Too bad she didn’t know about the Seven Stories and the Forty-year Vision before she was hired.
Clients often come to us with reams and reams of paper from counseling services that analyze their personalities. These clients may develop a deeper understanding of themselves, but they still usually have no idea what to do with their lives. Those psychological tests often don’t help as much in career planning as the simple exercises that we insist on.
The “answers” from a psychological test may be relatively clear-cut, but the Seven Stories provide deeper, richer information. You can continue to think about the threads that run through your stories and mine information that will help you decide what you need to be happy in a job.
The Forty-Year Vision exercise doesn’t provide an exact blue-print, but envisioning yourself in the future often gets rid of the clutter, and narrows your focus realistically. For example, a marketing manager (or an attorney, or an accountant) may say, “The industry I wind up in really does not matter to me: Okay, five years from now, would you like to wind up in a tire manufacturing company? “Of course not!” my client is likely to respond. (I pick industries the client would have no interest in.) “Well then, we’ve eliminated one industry: The environment you work in matters enormously—the Forty-Year Vision helps you imagine concretely and realistically.
After solid assessment, try to get three concurrent offers to give you some perspective. A single offer may look very good—until you have others to compare it with.
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