If you’ve been out in the workplace for a few years, you’ve probably already learned a particular “drill” if you decide you’d like to change jobs, or if change is foisted upon you in the form of a layoff or company restructuring. The rules of career change usually go like this: Scour online job postings, and apply only to those for which you meet nearly all of the qualifications. Send a slightly-altered-from stock cover letter with your one-size-fits-all resume. Wait. Apply to more online job postings or other advertised openings. Wait. Hear nothing. Wait. Despair …
There has to be a better way. According to Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of the Human Workplace and the world’s widely read career expert, there is, but it will involve setting aside much of the “common wisdom” you may have been taught by well-meaning career counselors and/or your peers in the office. She asserts that the electronic application systems many employers use do not give them the results they want - hiring fantastic, qualified, enthusiastic workers - and instead they repel people with their rigidity and automated fussiness. With the recruiting system broken in many places, and with lifetime employment security a thing of the (distant) past, what’s a job-seeker to do?
Ryan’s Reinvention Roadmap lays out an alternative path to satisfying work. “I wrote this book and designed the Reinvention Roadmap career program because I heard from working people all over the world that they were frustrated and unhappy with their careers,” she writes. “Most of us are still trying to use a 50-year-old model for career management, and it doesn’t work any more! The old model is broken. … In your Reinvention Roadmap journey, you’re going to take charge of your career, rather than letting employers (or anyone else) run your career for you. It’s your life, and it’s your career.”
"The old model is broken," Liz Ryan writes. "In your Reinvention Roadmap journey, you’re going to take charge of your career, rather than letting employers (or anyone else) run your career for you. It’s your life, and it’s your career.”
Much of Ryan’s book is dedicated to helping readers unlearn three old-school job hunting “truths,” and trying out three new counterstrategies.
In place of “you must only apply to online advertised job postings,” she encourages professionals to apply directly to a potential hiring manager, using tools that she calls a Human-Voiced Resume and a Pain Letter. These documents pinpoint what the job-seeker can do for an employer and demonstrate in conversational language why they’re the perfect person to relieve the potential boss’s job “pain.”
In place of “you must apply only to jobs that match your background and experience,” Ryan suggests that “reinvention is an exploratory process full of self-reflection.” She sprinkles in journaling prompts liberally in every chapter, helping the reader imagine vocational possibilities far beyond what they might come up with if they followed the old (and basically obsolete) “career escalator” model our parents and grandparents were taught.
In place of “you must follow the HR rules to the letter if you want to get hired,” she essentially gives the reader permission to be themselves and approach their potential employers as consulting clients. This mental and behavioral shift offers a possible income stream during the job hunt, lifts the job-seeker out of “grovel” mode, and increases the chances that a reader who follows Ryan’s system will connect with clients and employers who truly appreciate their workstyle and what the candidate can do for them.
For the most part, Reinvention Roadmap is both inspirational and practical. It will have you doing a LOT of writing about yourself, which makes sense if you’re pondering a big career change. The journaling is designed to fuel real-world prospecting for work and other practical actions, so it’s definitely not just navel-gazing. The colorful illustrations provide a touch of humor and emotional lightness to what can be fairly intense topics. When she talks about rules-loving people as “weenies,” it was fun to see an assortment of angry hot dogs spouting lines we’ve all heard before from officious busybodies. (She notes that we can all be weenies at times -- finding comfort in rules, schedules and policies is a common response to fear when we feel vulnerable.)
I was a bit concerned in our current economic and political climate that Ryan didn’t spend more time the challenges of replacing benefits in less-traditional work arrangements (such as temping or consulting), but I am guessing her response would be that we need to be ready to face that question as a business owner, and not an employee.
If you’re looking to give your career a major reboot in 2017, Reinvention Roadmap can be a comprehensive guide to that process. It can help you believe in yourself enough to make big changes -- and give you enough detail so that you know precisely how you’d like to proceed.
~By Liz Massey, Managing Editor, ASU Alumni Association.