Teacher Talk: Regulation not Control
There is a single right career for each one of us. A good degree from a great institute, followed by a fantastic job leads to a career graph which moves smoothly upwards. Most people follow a stable and steady-line career, which ends with a comfortable retirement.
Rubbish! So says Ben Ball in his book Assessing Your Career: Time for Change? In the real world, he points out, career paths can sometimes turn downward, and a good job doesn't always mean more money and being confused about what to do with one's career is normal. That's reassuring, because most people think they are the only ones confused about what to do next in their careers.
Ben Ball is a psychologist and has work experience in career counselling. As the director of the Career Development Unit at the University of Sussex he has published books, which is why this book has a very credible feel to it. He looks at case studies, examines career dilemmas and offers practical solutions on the art of carving out a career. Indeed, Ball makes an effort to achieve what he has set out to do: help the reader in addressing professional issues, improve work style and get a job you are good at.
In order to do so, the author has compiled exhaustive "exercises" to help analyse yourself and what you should be doing. One of the more interesting ones is the action plan he draws up for a reader and steps on planning your career (see table). Ball also encourages the reader to identify what his or her unique work values are. Does job security matter more or work that is socially useful? Do you prefer a pleasant working environment or would you rather have a job where a lot of travelling is required? Answering these innumerable questions, Ball argues, are a way of ascertaining what sort of a job would suit you the most.
A useful chapter is What your Employer Can Do for You and answers the simple question: why should your employer be concerned with your career development? The author gives plausible advice on how to involve your employer in your personal development.
Well-researched and with case studies to illustrate real problems, the book is quite handy in figuring out your careers issues. The dense academic language can be a handicap at times. There are some things however, which one doesn't need to be told. For example, "As recent research shows, the more 'decided' we can be about our overall career direction, the more likely we are to be successful in our search for work." But sometimes we need to be told what needs to be and this book does just that