January 6, 2012

Failure Analysis

When things are not working right it is sometimes good to do an assessment of the situation. It is time to call in the experts.

When a product fails, a bridge collapses, or a plane crashes a full team of experts gather information, data, and physical remnants. They then organize the data, run tests, and do a full analysis to try to find a cause for the failure to prevent future failure and disasters. In engineering the process of discovering what is causing the problem is called failure analysis. In law enforcement crime scene investigators, forensic scientists, and forensic accountants, use the same process of data collection and analysis to discover if a crime has been committed or to identify the criminal.

Each process requires a method but also calls for an intuitive process. Experts who have seen multiple failures have an ability to look at the situation and draw some initial conclusions that are either confirmed or negated by the scientific process.

When you are struggling with your career or your job search it is time for a failure analysis. So often I see people who are struggling in their career or with their job search but they keep making the same mistakes resulting in the same failure.

For the past few years, it has been easy to blame the recession for the failure to find a job. It was probably true for a time and for some people. But people do find work during the recession- especially college graduates and especially engineers. Right now people are getting interviews and getting jobs. The recession is over for highly educated and talented techies! Companies are hiring.

Recessions teach us a lot of things. As awful as the recession was, it was not all bad - really! Important survival skills were learned- frugality, self-sufficiency, saving, resilience, creativity, and most importantly- reassessment of what is really important in life. Many people have found different paths to their life purpose during the recession – they choose majors more carefully, started graduate school, stayed in school longer, found internships, volunteered, reconnected with family and friends, and generally found meaning wherever possible. Many people stayed longer in jobs that are not completely satisfying but provided a paycheck.

It is time for a complete failure analysis – What are you doing to thwart your success? What can you do to change the direction of your life path to a more satisfying one? What are the action steps you need to take to improve your life?

Go positive –
  • Make a list of all that you have accomplished over the past three years. What are you proud of? What are you thankful for?
  • Stop thinking about what could have been. Think about what you are going to make happen now. What are you passionate about? Write it down!

Get organized –
  • List your goals and set priorities - What do you want to accomplish over the next 6 months? What do you want to accomplish over the next 3-5 years? Select your most important goals and develop a plan.
  • Make a daily "to do" list and work on the most productive tasks – the ones that will yield the highest returns.

Get connected –
  • Join a social network like Linkedin and connect with other professionals in your field.
  • Join professional organizations and attend conferences and workshops where you will connect with other people with your same passion.
  • Network with professionals. Do 5 informational interviews every week. You will find you know more people than you think. Hang around employed people and you are going to know who is hiring.
  • Use Indeed – Google’s job search engine - daily to find jobs.

Get moving!
  • Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Don’t let that stop you. Never stop trying.
  • Get help from a professional. Find a career coach.
  • Take a career planning workshop or career planning class.

Turn your failures into successes!!!

You can do it!!!