October 9, 2014

Life Lessons from Sesame Street: 5 Elements of a Good Career Plan

I recently had surgery on my nose. I thought it would be no big deal but the minor surgery to remove a little sunspot on my nose ended up being a major disruption.

After toughing it out for 6 hours, I took a pain pill and settled into a short, blissfully pain-free space. In my diminished state I sat back in the recliner and turned on the TV. A furry Sesame Street character, named Murray, was interviewing a rock-climbing instructor, named Stephanie, and two ten-year-olds about rock climbing.

I was as riveted as a four year old watching Sesame Street! Life lessons coming from instructor and kids wrapped up in rock climbing lessons:“You have to have focus... You have to pay attention…”

I rewound the dialog over and over until I was able to write down the most important parts of the thread.

Murray: What do you like about rock climbing?
Rock Climber: I like the challenge.
Murray: What does it take? Were you able to do it right away?
Rock Climber: No… it took practice, practice, practice…”
Murray: Do you think I could do it?
Stephanie: Anybody can do it!
Murray: What do you need?
Rock Climber: Shoes, ropes, a harness…
Stephanie: You have to make sure you strategize. Think about what you are doing first. Think about it before you start climbing. Look to see the best way to get from the bottom to the top. Stay safe and get to the top successfully.

The message was clear - accomplishing your goal requires planning.
Career planning is a lot like rock climbing. If you are going to be successful in getting to the top you have to pay attention, focus, practice, and have the right tools. It also requires determination. You have to have a solid plan.

The 5 Elements of Career Planning:

Awareness - of what is going on in the world and how it affects your career; what industries are growing and what companies are hiring

Organization – a binder with calendar, success timeline, to do lists, job descriptions for positions you have applied for, and spreadsheets to track your progress

Focus on your strengths, skills, interests, goals and values

Strategy – a plan A industry and a plan B industry you will target; a strategy for how you will connect with companies through research, targeting specific industries and companies; networking; and applying

Presentation – perfect, high impact resume; jobseeker business cards; well refined cover letters; well thought-out and practiced interview answers; a professional interview outfit – appropriate for your target audience; thank you letters and follow up letters.

It is always a bit scary when you do something new like rock climbing or finding your path in life… but anybody can do it if you have focus and a strategy!

You don’t have to do this alone… Sesame Street and my book, The Serious Job Seeker are there for you!