Recently I’ve been inundated with recruitment firms spamming my LinkedIn account wanting to be my “friend”. I see it as akin to cold calling my telephone or knocking at my door. It parallels door-to-door salesmen and in my opinion rank just below those people who try and get you to switch energy provider or the perennial charity muggers or more commonly labelled by their euphemism, “chuggers”.
Although I know that they have a job to perform and that they are generally highly motivated to network and make connections, I fear that I loathe the way in which they trade you as though you are fattened calf off to market. The faux cheerfulness, the chirpy, upbeat, ‘we can achieve anything’ nature of the email or call. In reality you are column fodder for the organisation engaging the consultancy to find them a candidate.
This led me to ask myself, what my career means to me? I’ve been in work for 24 years since I left school at 16. Changed careers once and made redundant once. I’m a qualified engineer, a certified project manager and have been in my time a software engineer and systems architect and worked within a council’s environment department managing the closure of public byways and footpaths during an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. I’ve not really had a plan for my career. I’m an opportunist. I look at opportunities as and when the arise and make a choice on the facts as they are presented to me.
The spamming of my mailbox has made me think, as I reach middle age, should I take more care over my career path? I’ve made a pretty good show of it so far climbing the ladder of seniority early on in my career through long hours, hard work and making opportunistic moves into software engineering in the early pioneering days of IT in the 1990s with a global systems integrator and consulting firm. Moving to a start-up in 1999 helped me see the fun side of life, working with a bright bunch of guys who had no idea on how to run a business. This gave me the insight into operational modelling and data gathering to run a commercial venture, or I should say, how not to do it. Moving into my next venture in 2001, I took a short term contract with a public body and wow, was I in for a shock. Trust me, the stereotypical view of public bodies is right. Unionised, inefficient and bloated. No wonder my taxes are so high. My final career move in 2001, back into IT consultancy has seen me stay with my current employer the longest in my 24 year history or work.
The early days were classified by the can-do attitude and nonchalant bravado of the young company. An air of Dot Com pervaded the office. People at the top of their game working with entrepreneurial sales and management drove the company on from zero revenue to create a billion dollar global company within 10 years. By anyone standards that’s an amazing achievement. I’ve made many good choices and a few bad ones during my tenure and now as one of the senior members of the team I find myself banging on the glass ceiling. Which brings me back to the title of this blog entry. What does a career mean to you?
I’ve been analysing my options and my current position within life. I’ve been reviewing what I want out of my career and what I want out of life. Call it a midlife crisis. Call it an awakening. Call it what you will. I’m now looking at the second half of my life and wondering what I want out of it. I’ve set a few criteria to paper in order of preference:
- Personal Life – I have a wonderful partner who is open, inquisitive, and fun loving. I intend to make the most of my time with her. I have also developed a of love country sports. The sound of guns popping across a grouse moor or over a cover crop of sweet corn is a joyous occasion. I have made it a commitment to make more of the countryside. More shooting, fishing and walking.
- Relationships – I love cooking and love making dishes for others. Hospitality and me go hand-in-hand. I have made it commitment to socialise with my friends more at home and abroad.
- Career – It’s now all about making time to do the things I love. To set me up for retirement in a country cottage on a shooting estate with a river running at the bottom of the valley. To make sure I have enough in the bank and retirement fund to ensure that I can live without wants into my dotage.
So what does a career mean to me? It’s a means to an ends to satisfy my own wants. It means delivering on your commitments to the organisation to ensure that not only do you satisfy your employers but that you satisfy your own self worth. This self worth drives the ability to improve your personal life and your relationships. It also gives you the ability to generate the income which you require to chase your dreams, in my case the cottage on the shooting estate with the river at the bottom of the valley. Thatch roofed with a path down to my own trout stream for a little game fishing. That’s what a career means to me.