From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

November 2021
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Career Path Choices. Preferences, Luck and Skill
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, First Year on Job, Mature professionals, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 9:28 am

This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in

individuals when they seek different career paths.  Then we
began a two part discussion of soft  2 [listing in comments],
hard and wise skills that benefit professionals.
We pointed out that much of our life is quite unpredictable
and that what we start out wanting, doing and behaving 
changes throughout our life.  An interesting piece in Quartz
reported on statistical data where in the past we could reflect
on anecdotal instances in changes.
In the short term there remains a consistency in our wanting
doing and behaving, however.  Here we might pose that Luck
and Skill arbitrate on what happens in our careers.
                        LUCK = preparation + opportunity + attitude
                                       + action
                                                         / Hard
                                          SKILLS  -Soft
                                                         \ Wise
We suggested it is useful to set objectives, develop a plan
to achieve them and look for opportunities to be and act
professionally along the way.  Build your committed network,
ask for help, create and learn from “teachable moments”,
continuously learn, and be optimistic.
Two pieces of feedback from our class offered questions–
1- how can I network better?  What should I learn and practice?
[understand your current personal values, behaviors and emotional
make-up;  small talk, understand others’ make-ups and adapt
to achieve win-win outcomes] 
2-  it seems like the skills you list are just things to trick people on.
What is the basis for each item on the list, they wondered.
[real life often is a series of unpredictable events with little time
to think.  Thus our habits will determine our behaviors.  We wish
to figure out what our habits are modify them to be more effective.]
It is hard for some to learn that professional work is strongly
influenced by our cultural, personal and value-based habits.
It is often the case that how you do something is as important as
the outcomes that you achieve.  Sometimes the result is “pure 
luck” but as we know we “create much of our luck”.

One Response to “Career Path Choices. Preferences, Luck and Skill”

  1. site admin Says:
    From 3-25-17
     ”Career choices are not obvious or simple to make. Experts
    have found that biases that we are not aware of skew our
    perception of our options and create blind spots on our choices.
    Understanding these biases can help young people succeed in
    selecting a profession that will earn them a living and also yield
    fulfillment, a sense of purpose and a chance to master a skill
    that fascinates . 
    “It’s human to go down the path of least resistance and stick to
    what we know best.” While the narrowest definition of this bias
    is individual behavior that involves inertia or avoidance of
    change, it is also a tendency that can influence children to
    follow their parents into the same line of work. It is important
    to keep long-term happiness in mind, because another bias can
    lead to an overemphasis on the next few years rather than the
    next few decades. 
    “Many of us avoid actions that are costly in the short term,
    even if they present payoffs in the future”.
    “In behavioral economics, this is called present bias.”  
    “The younger you are, the more difficult it is to think about
    the future.” Present bias could prevent someone from
    pursuing a job that requires an initial investment in education.
    The bias could also encourage a person to choose a job that
    offers high pay initially, but has limited opportunities for
    To combat these biases, economists suggest speaking to
    professionals in various stages of a career. Experienced
    mentors can offer a longer-term perspective on what it
    will be like to work in that area for most of your life;
    younger workers can offer a view of what it’s like to start
    in the field now.  
    When making decisions under this salient bias, people
    may place more importance on visible or quantifiable
    “Do people feel like they’re treated fairly? Do they get
    along with the people they work with? I think that’s an
    aspect of the job people should focus on to a greater
    extent. Do they find the work intrinsically rewarding?”
    - Students should explore the world hands-on as much
     as they can through internships or a gap year.
    - Student should visit the career centers at their
    universities as early as their freshman year.
    - People can change their minds
    - View career management as part of an ongoing process

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