Take control of your destiny

Dr Bernard Haldane has strong
views on how to carve out your career. As a leading advocate of career management,
he firmly believes HR should look beyond mere job matches to develop an
individual’s potential. He talks to Phil Boucher

Dr Bernard Haldane
is founder and chairman emeritus of Bernard Haldane Associates – one of the world’s
oldest and largest career management organisations.

Over the past 53 years he has
advised companies including the Atomic Energy Commission, the Peace Corps,
Exxon and Harvard Graduate School.

At the age of 90, he heads a
$60m organisation that helps candidates find job satisfaction around the globe.

In a visit to his British
offices he found time to talk to PersonnelToday.com about career management,
the Internet and how to take control of your life.

Is managing a
career a full time job?

Everybody should manage their
own career, but most people don’t give it any where near enough time. Most
spend more time deciding which car to buy than on the jobs they should take.

You are growing all your life.
And if you’re going to grow the way you want you need to pay attention to what
you’re doing. You need to find a way of growing that plays to your strengths
rather than your weaknesses.

But before you do that you need
to know what your strengths are. To find out you have to write a list of at
least a dozen good examples of times when you did something well, enjoyed doing
it and were proud of what you achieved.

If you list these and identify
the strengths, you will find a pattern develops. This can be used to your
advantage and repeated, because if you are proud of doing something you are
normally willing to do it again.

What are the
current trends in career management in the US?

In many US universities they
are training students to identify their individual strengths and then building
courses around them.

In places like Harvard Business
School and the University of Washington, graduates are leaving with
qualifications that closely match their competencies.

Idaho has 70 to 80 per cent of
universities doing it and in Washington nearly all the colleges are tailoring
courses to match individual strengths.

How does the
career management of UK workers compare to those in the US?

The idea of pushing a career is
much greater in the US than the UK. In the UK the tendency is for people to
stay in the kind of career they’ve been brought up in and in which they have
done their college degrees. In the US up to 50 per cent of people will
radically change their careers during their lifetime.

Staying with the familiar is
playing with mediocrity and in the US people are much more willing to
experiment, change and take a risk.

What effect
will career management have on staff retention in the future?

People will continue to change
jobs more rapidly as career management is becoming increasingly individual.
People today want to develop themselves and to grow well.

The world is constantly
changing around us and HR has to change itself to cope with this. HR needs to
be brave enough to try and draw more from the potential of people rather than
simply enabling them to fit into an old time job description.

What impact has
the Internet had on recruitment?

Net companies have popularised
themselves to a high degree. So people are convinced that the best way of
getting a job comes through the Net. But the Internet is misleading. Only 5 to10
per cent find jobs on the Net. Most of the time it comes through talking to
people, reading the newspaper or personal friends.

The Net is also directing
people into niches all the time. Recruitment on the Net gets rid of people too
soon. It analyses people too closely and throws away those who don’t meet the
exact job descriptions.

Nobody has ever been able to
completely meet a job description and doing this eliminates those who can add
something extra to an organisation. And at the same time it also allows a
number to come through the recruitment process that shouldn’t.

How has your
own life affected your view of career management?

My main concern is reforming
companies to get them to pay attention to the potential of people rather than
trying to fit them into a job description. But my own career management skills
came through studying the relevant impotence of the standard means of job

I had to try and develop
something that would enable people to believe in what they could contribute
rather than concentrating on what jobs are offered to them – to help people to
career manage according to their strengths rather than what is placed in their

I’m 90 so I don’t get involved
in too much any more myself. But I’ve just completed a task in South Africa
creating new jobs for people during transition.

What are the
most important factors in career management?

People need to sit down with a
pen and paper and describe experiences where they have found job satisfaction, and
the job’s been done to the satisfaction of employers.

They need to take this, find
the pattern of strengths it shows and use that to create their own chances. You
have to understand yourself, realise what you have to offer. Then people will
offer you the job that you want rather than one you have to take.

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