The Demise of the Paycheck – Good Riddance

Demise of the Paycheck

paycheck

My Last Paycheck

Paycheck…where is that dang paycheck? Oh, I did not get one in 2014. That’s right. I have not had a paycheck since 2011.

Because it is January, I started to gather my papers together to do my income taxes. I paid my property taxes today. I made sure to file my quarterly estimated taxes. What was missing is the W-2 statement I used to get from an employer.

It still feels strange not getting a paycheck!

I was raised to be an employee and to work for a father-like company that would take care of me.

Does this seem familiar?

For most baby boomers, we were encouraged to take the safe path, to work for a solid company and get a regular paycheck.

When I started to work for IBM in 1978, I got paid weekly. Every Monday, my paycheck was deposited into my credit union account like clockwork. It was always there! There was security in knowing that there was a steady flow of money coming in.

They Moved My Cheese!

In 1993, IBM went through its near bankruptcy. I watched as many of my older colleagues were walked to the door. They got big severance packages, but the security of the paycheck was gone.

In 1999, IBM made their first attempts to eliminate the pension plan. I started to realize that the concept of job security and a secure paycheck are an illusion.

They moved my cheese!

At that point, I decided it was time to move on. I left IBM in January of 2000 to go to a semi-conductor startup, Agere, Inc.

It was freeing to leave that father-like company—a company that was no more. I left on my terms. I still had a paycheck, but this one was not nearly as secure.

Dot Com Bust

Then came the dot com bust. I watched as many of my former colleagues were laid off from IBM, as well as other large companies.

I hung on to the concept that I needed to stay employed.

In July of 2002, I had a moment of clarity when I endured a near fatal bicycle accident.

I considered starting my own consulting practice, but I could not get health insurance for my wife. I clung to the concept that I needed to stay employed and get a paycheck. I made a couple of career pivots to teach high school math and work for a non-profit. In both, I had a paycheck and health insurance.

The Great Recession

In December of 2007, I took another position with a tech startup called LifeSize. Once again, I watched as so many friends were ejected and lost their steady paycheck.

In 2009, in the depth of the great recession, I started to explore the concept of starting a business, which is now called Career Pivot. I spent over 18 months in my exploration phase. I really liked that steady paycheck!

Sometimes, we have to get hit on the head a few times before we take action. It was late in 2010 when I was put in a highly unethical position at work. It was then that I had enough!

No Paycheck or W-2

It has been four years since I received my last paycheck. Once again, I will not get a W-2 this year. It has been scary at times. We live on less. In fact, we live on a lot less…but we are happier!

Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I can get health insurance for my wife. It is expensive, but at least I can get it. By the way, I think ACA is a great thing for baby boomers who want to ditch the paycheck. I am all for disconnecting health insurance from the workplace, but that is a whole different topic!

It is liberating not depending on my employer for a paycheck!

In fact, there are many predictions that say over half of us will be contractors or freelancers by 2020.

Are you willing to ditch the paycheck?

Paycheck?  Good Riddance!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

 ————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Is It Time to Move On In Your Career?

Time to Move On?

move onAre you reaching the point where it is time to move on in your career?

Why are you staying?

Inertia. Inertia is a dangerous thing.  You might be saying:

I have been here too long to just leave.

I am too valuable to let go.

I will wait for the next package to come along.

Or, are you just too comfortable in your position, and to move on would be a lot of work?

Either reason is dangerous. In most cases, you probably have not yet formulated a Plan B.

Example #1

I am currently working with a gentleman who has worked for a large technology company for over 30 years. Last year, everyone on his team was offered an early retirement package. My client turned the offer down.

The problem was that everyone else on his team took the package! His boss even took the package.

He is now doing the work of four and, best he can tell, there are no plans to back-fill the other positions.

He has been offered a generous retirement package again.

Is it time to move on? You tell me!

Example #2

I just talked with a nice lady today who has been programming IBM mainframes for the same company for 20 years. Her employer has rarely laid anyone off. The plan is to migrate off the IBM mainframe over the next few years.

She is being offered opportunities to learn new programing technologies, but it does not excite her. She really does not know what she wants to do. She is in her early 50s and has been doing the same thing for a very long time.

It is time to move on! The problem is what to move on to.

18-24 Month Plan

She is like several clients that I have whose time to move on is very near. With each of these clients, we are putting together an 18-24 month plan. They know the future lies in working for themselves in one way or another. That plan includes:

  • Performing market research on starting a business, freelancing, or finding multiple employers that would be interested in their services on a contract basis
  • Creating the business plans for the next step
  • Establishing their business on paper as either an LLC, LLP, S-Corp or C-Corp
  • Creating a budget and allocating resources

You are probably saying, “How will I do all that?” I am sending all of them to their local Small Business Development Center for help! These centers are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and are FREE!

When the time comes that they are approached with a business opportunity or told by their current employer that their services are no longer needed, they will be ready.

They are ready financially.

They are ready with the business plan.

They are ready emotionally.

It is the third piece that is really crucial.

When I started Career Pivot, I had my business plan in place. I knew the financials. I am a recovering engineer, so I had everything logically laid out.

That still did not stop me from waking up at 3 AM every morning in a sweat thinking, I do not have a paycheck.

Being ready emotionally, when the time to move on comes, is critical.

Are you going to be prepared when the time is right to move on?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest whitepaper Personal Branding for Baby Boomers – What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional!

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Working for a Family Owned Business – Pros and Cons

Family Owned Business

family owned businessHave you considered going to work for a family owned business?

These businesses have their own special qualities.

What prompted me to write about this was an e-mail I received after I posted my LinkedIn Publisher post, Are You a Perfect Fit for the Job? Then You Will Not Get It!

The author of the e-mail said she had been a perfect fit for her last job, but had to quit after one year. She wrote that her predecessor lasted only seven months. The job was crazy! The boss was crazy!

My response was, “I bet it was a family owned business!”

She said, “Wow. Yes. The owner, her husband, and son worked there.”

From my experience, there are pros and cons when it comes to working for a family owned business.

Pros

Family owned businesses tend to be smaller. If you are a generalist (versus being a specialist), this is a good thing. You will likely get to wear more hats—getting a greater variety of assignments.

A family owned business can feel like a family for the whole staff. I have known many owners who treat their employees like they are part of the family. For the right person, this can be quite comforting and create an inviting environment.

Cons

A family owned business is exactly that—family owned. Did you grow up in a dysfunctional family like I did? If the family is dysfunctional, then it is highly likely the family owned business will be dysfunctional. I have worked for a non-profit that was dysfunctional, and cannot imagine working in a dysfunctional family owned business.

Do you want to move up? Well, if you are not family, the likelihood of taking a leadership position is small. Well-run family owned businesses also tend to have very low turnover. This can make moving up within the organization difficult.

Is the business growing? Yes? Will the business grow past the capabilities of the owners to manage it, and are they willing to bring in outside talent? If you are in your 50s, you will remember a book titled the Peter Principle. The premise of the book is all of us will inevitably rise to his or her level of incompetence.

I have seen this with multiple clients who work for a family owned business. The business grows and grows, but the management team rises to their level of incompetence. The family cannot see that they need to bring in talent from outside of the family.

Family Members After the Business Fails

I have worked with multiple clients who were part of a family that ran a family owned business. They were left jobless when the business failed during the great recession. Many of them find it difficult to find jobs with traditional employers because they simply do not fit into a corporate role.

Have you worked for family owned business?

What was your experience?

Are you a good fit for a family owned business?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Mentors – Both Formal and Informal

Mentors

mentorsDo you have one or more mentors?

My one regret from early in my career was I did not seek out mentors. I regret not having someone who could guide me when there was a fork in the road. I have encountered multiple of these forks in my career, and I did not always choose the best path.

Today, I have multiple mentors. I have a business coach. I have multiple mentors that support me in different aspects of my business. I also mentor others.

Some of these relationships are formal, but most are informal.

Why would someone be willing to be one of my mentors?

I am often asked, “Why would someone be will to be one of my mentors?”

It is a compliment. When I mentor someone, I get that good feeling that I have helped them.

Think of it as a gift. By allowing someone to guide and help you reach the next level, you are giving them a gift.

Formal versus informal mentors

I have multiple informal mentor relationships. These are people in my tribe or fan club who I can go to when I need advice or a favor. We do not meet on any regular basis.

Just last week, I was in the process of moving my website to a new service provider, and I needed advice on how to proceed. I reached out to one of my mentors and I got really solid advice.

I have several informal mentors that I can go to for help with PR, sales, networking, etc.

I have formal relationships with several mentors. One is my business coach. Another is the provider of the Birkman Assessment which I use with all of my clients. I pay my business coach and my provider, but these are still mentoring relationships.

Most formal mentoring relationships will have a regular schedule that you will follow and clear goals that you are working to achieve.

Finding Mentors

You first need to determine what areas you need help in. You can then target people who might be able to help in three areas:

  • Work – Look for leaders in your workplace
  • Outside of Work – Look for leaders in the industry or discipline. They do not necessarily have to be located near you.
  • LinkedIn – You can take the same strategies that I recommend in the Targeted Job Search to find mentors.

Early in my career, I had a team leader explain to me that, when he took a new job, he sought out those who knew what they were doing AND were not jerks! It is the second part that is critical. Find those that enjoy helping others.

 

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my whitepaper “Don’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

What I Learned About Corporate Culture From My Cat

Corporate Culture and Cats

Corporate CultureI recently learned a lot about corporate culture from my cat, Jack!

You are probably wondering what I could learn about corporate culture from the cute guy in this picture. Jack is pretty cute, but what the picture does not tell you is he is quite large.

Jack is 17 pounds and, as you can see from the picture below, when stretched out against a meter stick, he is quite long.

Corporate Culture

Click to Enlarge

Jack is that guy or gal at work who seems likes a really nice guy until… something changes.

He or she then becomes a completely different person.

Maybe you just hired someone new into your department and, suddenly, the dynamics change.

Maybe your company was acquired and the corporate culture shifts.

Changes in Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture

Click to Enlarge

A couple of months ago, we took in a stray cat who we call Rex. Rex was probably abandoned by college students who live in the apartments behind our condo unit. Rex is quite gentle and much smaller than Jack. Rex is eleven pounds.

We kept them separated for about a week, letting them get to used to one another. What we discovered was that Jack is a real bully.

The corporate culture in our household changed dramatically.

Jack would try to monopolize space. He was protecting his turf.

Have you seen this at work?

Rex figured out how to sit on the bar and watch Jack. At the right moment, he jumps down and walks by Jack. Suddenly, he runs up the stairs with Jack in close pursuit. Rex is a lot faster than Jack, and he knows it. Rex knows how to bait Jack.

Just like office politics.

Rex and Jack’s behaviors are slowly getting better. We are policing their behavior and rewarding good behavior.

Life after Acquisition

I have worked for two successful tech start ups. The cultures of the two were polar opposites of one another but that only became apparent after there was an acquisition.

In 2000, I went to work for a semi-conductor start up that was acquired in 2001. After the acquisition, not much changed. We added new people and they seemed to seamlessly fit in. The founders were very clear on the culture they wanted to create, and hired only people who fit their vision. I stayed for almost four years after the acquisition because of the corporate culture.

In 2007, I went to work for an HD video start up that was later acquired in 2009. Almost immediately after the acquisition, the culture changed. It was just like us bringing Rex into our household.

  • Bullying behavior started
  • Managers and their teams started to protect their turfs
  • Hiring practices became very political

I left thirteen months after the acquisition when my ethical boundaries were crossed.

The similarities between what happened after the acquisition and bringing a new cat into our household was striking!

What Was Different?

In the first situation, management clearly defined the culture and their hiring practices mirrored the culture they wanted to create. After the acquisition, that culture endured for a very long time, even in very tough economic times.

This did not happen in the second situation—the culture they created was only skin deep. The corporate culture was only a facade which they were able to maintain in good times but not bad.

A good litmus test for a prospective employer is ask what changed in the last recession? Did the corporate culture change?

Have you experienced a corporate culture that can endure change?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Are You a Generalist or Specialist

Generalist or Specialist

generalist or specialistHow you manage your career depends on whether you are a generalist or specialist.

When I started my career in the 1970s, large corporations valued generalists. In my 22 years of working for IBM, they let me take a variety of career paths. It also suited my personality, because I have a lot of varied interests. After a few years in a job, I would get bored and wanted to do something new.

IBM allowed me to work with a lot of leading-edge technologies that are still around today. Some of these included:

  • Word Processors – I worked with early word processors even before the IBM PC was released.
  • 3D printing – I was working with early 3D printers in 1989.
  • HTML and Internet Applications – I was designing Internet applications in the 1990s, long before it was common.
  • Advanced Router Design – When I left IBM in 2000, I developed curriculum to teach major equipment manufactures how to design next generation routers and switches.
  • High Definition Video – In 2007, after spending a couple years teaching high school math and working in the non-profit arena, I went to work for a HD video conferencing start up developing a training and certification program.

I am a generalist. I have enjoyed working with a lot of different technologies and methodologies. My challenge was that I got bored about every three years and wanted to move on to something different.

Specialists Rule

A fundamental shift started about twenty years ago. As technological change sped up, the need for specialists increased. Starting in the mid 1990s, I saw many move on to become specialists—and they were generously rewarded…for awhile. If you developed skills and became a specialist in an area that was in the early adoption phase, you could make a lot of money, again, for awhile. That was only true until others developed those same skills. The key was to identify correctly which skills would be desirable to have a year or two ahead of the demand.

This is easy to see in the world of technology, but does it apply elsewhere? YES!

In the world of Human Resources, you could be a generalist or a specialist in recruiting, compensation, benefit programs, diversity, HR IT, etc…

In the world of sales, you could be a generalist or a specialist in B2B or B2C, Internet sales, Channel sales, etc…

The challenge is that, if you are a specialist, your skills may not be valued in 5, 10 or 15 years. Let me give a few examples of skills that have become obsolete:

  • Experts in direct mail (snail mail) marketing – With the exception of credit card offers, what industries still market through direct mail?
  • Travel agents – When was the last time you talked to a travel agent? Fifteen years ago, this was still a valued skill.
  • Specialists in the complex process of laying out news print for your daily newspaper – When did you last pick up a paper newspaper?
  • Photo-Journalists – Why have photo-journalists when everyone has a camera?

These were all valued skills just a few years ago.

What if I am a Generalist?

Generalists are typically more valued in smaller organizations. Small organizations typically cannot afford to hire a lot of specialists. I have a client who is a marketing generalist. She like to write press releases, e-mail marketing, social media, direct mail, creation of collateral,….. You will be more valued in smaller organizations who need their employees to wear a lot of hats.

What if I am a Specialist?

Specialists need to stay on top of their areas of expertise and be willing to move when their expertise becomes a commodity  or obsolete. This requires vigilance and the willingness to move with industry trends. You must be aware of disruptive trends in your industry.

Examples of Disruption

Taxi and Limousine Services – Will Lyft, Uber, Sidecar or even Google’s Driverless car make these businesses obsolete?

Local Television News – When did you last watch the evening news? The local news programs are still around, but will they be in ten years?

Cable Television – Why have cable television service when there is Netflix, Hulu, etc?

Facebook Marketing – Will Facebook be relevant in 10 years? It did not exist 10 years ago and may not be relevant in another 10 years.

Give it some thought.

Are you a generalist or specialist?

Are you prepared for disruptive change that is coming?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Grab and Grow – A Plan for Career Success

Grab and Grow!

grab and growI have a client who just started a new business analyst position for a Fortune 500 company. I am using the system defined in the book The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter to assist him in getting up to speed.

He was explaining some of the challenges he was having, and one was about the lack of prioritization of projects. He is working with two other newly hired business analysts, and I suggested they create a prioritization system for projects.

If something needs to be done, then just go do it. Grab and Grow!

I have always believed that if something needed to get done, and I liked the opportunity to get it done, then I just did it. The rare occasions when I got my hand slapped, I begged for forgiveness and learned from the experience. If I kept my schedule full with things I liked to do, then when items came up that I did not like to do, they would often be assigned to someone else.

I have called this the Grab and Grow model to career success.

Timing Is Important

Often when you spot something that is not being done, you can just start doing it. When it involves a lot of people or a micro-managing boss, you have to pick your spots to grab and grow.

Years ago, I had a micro-managing boss. He did not delegate anywhere near enough of the high level decision making to his team. This team was very senior with years of experience. We could not figure out how to get him to let go.

One night I was home working on getting reimbursed for medical expenses. I soon realized I needed a medical insurance form that I did not have. This was the 1990s, and everything was still submitted on paper through the mail. Our offices were only a ten minute drive from my house. At 8 PM, I drove to the office. When I walked to the cabinet to get the form, I walked by my bosses office. He was slouched in his chair and was obviously exhausted. The time was right to grab and grow.

I asked him what was wrong. He respond with a litany of items he was working on. I reminded him that Ed could handle item #1, Evelyn could handle item #2, Tom could handle Item #3….. obviously picking the items I wanted for me.

He listened!

It was only in his exhausted state would he have listened. From that day onward, he started delegating.

Planting Seeds

Sometimes, you need to plant seeds of ideas. This can be done by asking open ended questions about the problems that you see and want to solve. You should be prepared to discuss you solution…when the timing is right.

It is all about awareness. If you can make everyone aware of the problem by asking questions, when the timing is right you can present your solution OR you may just want to solve the problem anyway.

It is almost always better to fix a problem and then ask for permission later!

Give it a try and grab and grow!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Do You Have a Plan B for Your Career

Do You Have a Plan B for Your Career?

plan bYou have probably been told that you should have a Plan B. What if something does not work out?

How about having a Plan B for your career?

I entered the job market in the 1970s when I expected to work for one employer for most of my career. Well, that lasted 22 years and I have had six in the last 16 years. Most of those transitions were planned, which means I planned very well, or that I was lucky!

What should you be prepared for?

Cyclical Professions

In my most recent past, I have been involved in the two very cyclical professions:

  • Recruiting
  • Learning and Development (Training)

Recruiters are the first hired when the economy picks up AND the first to be let go when the economy slows down.

Learning and development professionals know that their mission can easily be eliminated.

Ask any recruiter or trainer whether they have a Plan B for their career.

Mergers and Acquisitions

I have worked for two successful tech startups that were acquired. Both eventually started to lay staff off. This can be due to eliminating redundant positions, or because expectations of growth after an acquisition are not attained.

Rarely has there been a merger or acquisition where layoffs do not eventually follow! It may take a couple of years but…

If you work for a company where an acquisition or merger is possible, you better have a Plan B for your career!

Patents

I currently have multiple clients in the pharmaceutical industry. Many companies have patents on pharmaceuticals that are going to expire in the next few years. Several of these companies and announced multi-year staff reduction plans.

Patent protection is key to profitability in many industries, but when the patents expire it is like going over a cliff. Profits dry up over night!

If you work in the pharmaceutical industry or any other industry dependent on patent protection, you should always have a Plan B.

Economic Bubbles

We all know what happened in the last two recessions. Having worked in the semi-conductor and telecommunications industry during the dot com bubble, I knew the end was coming and acted accordingly. Similarly, I was working in the non-profit industry raising money from the financial industry at the beginning of the great recession. In hindsight, I saw the collapse coming but did nothing about it. I got lucky and moved to a safe place in late 2007.

If things seem just too good to be true, you need a Plan B!

Unforeseen Situations

Sometimes stuff just happens. I recently wrote about being put in a highly unethical position by my employer. I had a Plan B already in place, but I was not prepared to act quickly enough.

What will you do if your employer places you in an untenable position? Do you have a Plan B?

If you follow the steps of the Targeted Job Search, you will always be prepared to move to your next position.

You never know when you will need a Plan B for your career.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Does Your Personality Mesh with Your Career

Personality Mesh with Your Career?

personalityYour personality is a key factor in finding happiness in your career. Unfortunately, when we make our initial career choices, we may ignore certain key traits or just focus on where we can make the most money.

Kinetic Programmer

I learned to program computers in high school in the early 1970s. Yes, they had computers back then!

I decided to study computer science at the Northwestern University Technological Institute, which is now the McCormick School of Engineering. I loved to solve problems. I enjoyed writing programs in a variety of languages, even assembler code. I would often find myself writing programs for a couple of hours at a time.

I graduated in 1978 and went to work for IBM.  My job was to program the latest trend—word processors. I was supposed to sit in my office for eight hours a day with a coding pad and write assembler code. This kind of code is directly translatable into computer instructions (it is very tedious to program and hardly anyone does it anymore). Once I was done writing a significant amount of code, I would sit at my desk and review it. Then my team would get together and perform code reviews.

The problem with this is that I am a very high-energy guy. I cannot sit at a desk for more than an hour at a time. I am social. I like being around people. My personality was not suited to just sitting behind the desk and programming for hours at a time.

I spent six years being miserable before I moved into a new role where I no longer wrote programs, but supported Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems. I got to work with people, solve problems, and often got to work with my hands.

I was not genuinely happy until I moved into a training function where I taught the latest technologies developed at IBM. That transition took over ten long years.

My personality with the need for high activity was in direct conflict with sitting at a desk for long hours as a computer programmer. My personality did not mesh with my career choice.

Structured Anarchist

I have a client who has been a finance guy in the non-profit sector for most of his career . He appears to be very structured and orderly.

After graduating from college with a liberal arts degree, he became a non-profit executive director. He decided to get an MBA from a prestige business school because they had a non-profit track in their curriculum.  When he started the program and was sitting with his advisor, he asked when he would get to take the non-profit courses. After a few perplexing questions his advisor said “We should have removed those from the course catalog years ago.” Despite this, he stuck it out and finished his MBA in Finance.

He appears to structured and orderly, but he only works well when it is his structure. He is really good at creating order out of chaos, but once he finishes, he gets bored. He wants another problem to solve.

He has been in one non-profit organization after another, fixing the problems, then getting bored and leaving.

He is now building sales programs. He does not sell! He creates sales systems and then trains sales partners on how to implement them. He creates the structure and gets to interact with people to implement that structure. Not your typical finance guy.

His personality told everyone that he was very orderly, but his need for very little outside structure caused people to place him in positions where there was already a lot of structure…that he could not change. Therefore, he was often unhappy.

It was only after he sought out a role that was compatible with his personality, rather waiting than being placed in a role, that he was happy. He became proactive and not reactive.

The Challenge

Just because you are good at something does not mean you will want to do it for a career. We are often pushed into career paths because we appear to have certain traits. I wrote previously a post titled Are You Your Authentic Self at Work.

Just because we have certain talents does not mean you can apply them in the business world.  Just ask artists and musicians about applying their talents in the business world. This is why it is important to try a career before you fully commit. Try before you buy!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

When Your Ethical Boundaries are Crossed

Ethical Boundaries

Ethical BoundariesWe all have ethical boundaries. We know what we think is ethical behavior at work, but what do you do when your ethical boundaries are crossed?

Have you really thought what you would do if asked to do something that you considered unethical?

Have you considered what you would do if your boss or others in corporate management did something that you considered unethical?

Until a little over four years ago, I had never really thought about it. That was, until my last employer was acquired. I started to see changes in behavior in the senior management that concerned me.

We were also in the middle of the great recession. We were hiring when many other companies were laying staff off.

It started with a director who tried to hire a close relative. The relative interviewed for a lower level position and was about to get an offer when this individual’s background check did not pass corporate guidelines.

There was a sigh of relief that could be felt throughout the office.

This was not in my management chain, but it was a warning—and I ignored it. It was 2010, and the economy still was in the tank.

Pushing Against My Ethical Boundaries

Several months later, I received a resume from a senior executive. It was the resume of a close relative that the senior executive wanted me to consider for an open position.

The problem was that this individual was not even vaguely qualified.

I was then pressured by my boss to interview this individual. I should have started to make plans to leave!

It was a phone interview, and I explained that he was not qualified for the current position. I also offered advice on where he might want to look for employment in the city where his qualifications would be valued.

To make a long story short, I was pressured to interview this individual in person. I did so against my better judgement.

I refused to hire the individual.

My boss then created a position working for him directly and hired the relative. I found this out through indirect channels.

What to do next?

I had not created a Plan B. I knew it was coming, but I ignored the possibility.

I confronted my boss and was told it was a done deal.  There was nothing I could do about it. I was even expected to train the individual for the newly created position. My ethical boundaries were crossed!

I strategically did the following:

  • Kept my mouth shut. I mentioned that my ethical boundaries had been crossed to my HR representative, but when asked whether to carry this up the management chain, I said no. I trusted no one!
  • Consulted my financial adviser. It was comforting talking to someone about the financial risk and having it confirmed that I was making a rational financial decision.
  • Finished the legal paper work to create my business. My business plans were already in the works. I accelerated everything by 9-12 months.
  • Calculated to the day when I would give two weeks notice and get the greatest financial benefit. This included getting my quarterly bonus, getting within 14 days of my next options vesting, and having the company pay for health insurance for the rest of the month.

It was three months from the time I confronted my boss to when I turned in my resignation. This was a miserable three months.

I wish I had spent time formulating a Plan B when I got the first indication of bad ethical behavior. My mistake!

I had never thought about what I would do if my ethical boundaries were crossed. I now teach in the Targeted Job Search to always be prepared to leave your current job.

You never know when you might be laid off or have your ethical boundaries crossed.

Do you have a Plan B?

Do you have a similar story to tell? What did you do?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group