Now jobs are no longer for life, why do so many people, HR professionals included, fail to map out own their career path? Those with clear career aspirations are not only happier but more likely to stay with a company which offers them the right tools and processes
Last month the UK's most high-profile outplacement candidate, outgoing Tory leader William Hague, slipped quietly into the offices of his former employer, management consultants McKinsey & Co, for an important meeting. He was visiting his old mentor, octogenarian Brigadier Harry Langstaff who originally recruited him to the company as a young Oxford graduate. It is unlikely that Hague was discussing a new opening at Mckinsey. The point of the meeting, according to one insider, was "a big chat all about life" - Langstaff had offered to boost his former protegé in his hour of need with a timely crash course in career management.
How nice it would be if we all had a wise and experienced mentor to call upon during those crossroads moments in our careers. The best most people can hope for, however, is a kitchen table pow-wow with their partner, or a session down the pub with an understanding friend. For most of us, the first (and last) proactive career management session probably took place between the ages of 16 to 18 in the less-than-inspiring environs of the school careers room. And if anyone can remember the sage advice doled out then, they get full marks for memory retention.
It is telling, perhaps, that the most famous biographical detail relating to another Tory grandee, Michael Heseltine, is the way he outlined his future career on the back of an envelope while still an undergraduate. The broad plan was to make a million by the end of the 1960s, become an MP in the 1970s, Cabinet minister in the 1980s, culminating in his election as PM in the 1990s. The fact that he failed to achieve this ultimate ambition is irrelevant, the salient point is that he bothered at all. In the eyes of most commentators Heseltine's rough career map singled him out as a man of unusual drive and ambition even in the competitive world of politics.
Most surveys on the subject demonstrate what we already know: that people are only slowly coming round to the idea that it is their responsibility to manage their own careers. A study conducted two years ago by Penna Sanders & Sidney found striking levels of apathy even among