Alchemy: Turning knowledge into action

I’ve just been reading a blog on the Guardian website where a student is discussing whether the country’s education policy has the balance right – that she & her peers know a lot of stuff, but don’t know how to actually do much themselves.

As a careers adviser part of my job is helping my clients know stuff – about themselves, about jobs and sectors they are interested in, about the techniques needed to secure a job offer.  But that part of the job is next to worthless if the client then doesn’t do something with it, so the other part of my job has to be about helping them follow the process through.

So what stops them from turning knowledge into action?  As usual the answer isn’t clear or simple because we are dealing with individuals, but here’s a few suggestions:

  1. It’s hard – often a job seeker has to do something that they find difficult, such as contacting and talking to a complete stranger (networking), and if it seems too hard then it’s usually easy to find a good reason to put it off;
  2. It’s not a priority yet – I’ve just surveyed the current students, and lots of them haven’t accessed any careers services because it isn’t a priority yet.  It’s easy to think that those who have talked to us don’t think that implementing the advice is a priority yet either;
  3. It’s not much fun – there’s always something more enjoyable than updating your CV, or researching Companies that are growing, or creating that http://www.linkedin.com profile; and perhaps the most likely for many:
  4. It’s scary – or at least deflating – looking for a job is a process that leads to ‘No’ many more times than it leads to ‘Yes’ and surely no one likes being turned down.  Then there’s always the chance the ‘Yes’ will only lead to a job that isn’t right for us anyway, and we need to start the whole blooming process again.

What I really like to get to is a process where the client forms an action plan & then regularly comes in to discuss progress with me so that they can take stock, and if necessary tweak their plans.

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