Cliff Montgomery: Job Hunting and Career Planning
Q&A with the career coach
“Q&A with the career coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and clients and answers from 42-year human resource veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below.
Q: Thus far in my career, I appear to have done very well. I’ve been promoted numerous times and well rewarded. My problem is that deep down inside I feel like a fraud and that one day someone is going to discover that I’m really incompetent. Are you at all familiar with this concept?
A: While I realize this is an uncomfortable feeling, the good news is that as many as 70 percent of your fellow high achievers also share this anxiety. In a book written several years ago titled “If I’m so Successful, Why Do I Feel like a Fake?,” authors Joan Harvey and Cynthia Katz even gave it a name, “The Imposter Phenomenon.” They found that among the very successful, this feeling is almost universal, so you’re definitely not alone and in very good company.
More good news is found in more recent studies of anxiety which found that people with this kind of fear tend to be very serious about what they do, sensitive to the needs of others and have a great attention to detail – traits that can be useful in various aspects of life in addition to the workplace. It is difficult to determine whether these feelings result from nature or nurturing, but there are several things you can do to deal with it, including learning how to graciously accept compliments, practice visualizing the best that can happen vs. the worst and arranging your daily priorities to work first on the things that are the most critical.
Q: Here in mid-career, I’ve just left a job in an industry that I’ve worked in all my life. Now that I’m in a job hunt, do you recommend that I look for another job only in that industry or explore other alternatives?
A: While it is always tempting to keep doing what you’ve always been doing, I’ve always been a believer in exploring as many alternatives as possible during a job search. My first question for you would be: how much did you love the industry you were in? The second would be: in the past, have you always really wanted to try something else; and third: how good were you in your previous role?
When you speak of “mid-career,” I always think about that as “halftime” ... a time when you can step back and evaluate what you’re going to do for the rest of your career. At the beginning of all my engagements, I have my clients complete a behavioral-style assessment that includes a section on “Your Ideal Environment,” and in this way, provide them with ideas and directions that they might not have thought of. Happy exploring.
Send your questions to Clifford E. Montgomery, executive and career coach in New Hope. He can be reached at 215-862-5553 or email@example.com. His website is montgomerycareercoaching.com.
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