Tag Archives: career development

My top 10 career development books

My top 10 career development books

It is an almost impossible task to come up with a definitive list of my top ten career development books. However I set myself the task of choosing a list of books that met my following criteria.

My top ten career development books:

  1. I have personally found them useful and inspirational and I continue to draw upon them in my practice or
  2. They reflect my practice as I have had a hand in writing them
  3. They are evidence-based how-to guides                                                                                            or
  4. They provide insights into how the world operates that we need to understand to assist our clients
  5. They are well written, based on research and reflect the realities of career development work in the C21st – which means they are compatible with my Chaos Theory of Careers.
  6. Between them they need to cover: theory, practice, counselling and coaching techniques, job application preparation advice including social media and the web generally.
  7. They need to have been published in the C21st.

These are books that I recommend for anyone working in career development coaching, or the educated client, looking for self-directed learning. They are drawn from organisational coaching, counselling, self-help, economics, general science, and psychology.

So my top ten career development books are:

10. Luck is no accident. Al Levin and John Krumboltz.

This is a great and readable account of John Krumboltz’s Happenstance Learning theory.  The book sets out practical strategies to take advantage of and to make your own luck.  John has argued for many years that a lot of career development is down to lucky breaks, and I agree we need to take more account of luck in careers.

Career Development Books

 

9. A perfect Mess. The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. Eric Abrahamsson and David Freedman

I love this book. The authors provide a series of compelling cases studies showing how over-planning and over-organising can lead to worse performance than being open to opportunities. From highly successful book stores that don’t bother arranging their books into subject sections to successful companies that don’t bother with strategic plans, this book provides an antidote to a lot of the received (and untested) wisdom found in career planning ideas.

Career Development Books

 

 

8. Why most things fail.  Paul Ormerod

This is a fascinating insight into, why amongst other things nearly all brands fail and most do so rapidly. That alone is worth the price of the book, when considered against the heavy emphasis placed on the idea of a personal brand in career development. The analysis further reinforces the notion that centralised planning does not work well for companies or economies and that at the individual level, failure is not only inevitable but it helps to rejuvenate the whole system.

Career Development Books

 

7. Beyond Goals. Susan David, David Clutterbuck and David Megginson

This is an edited collection of writings by some of the leading coaching practitioners and researchers in the world today.  The book’s premise as reflected in its title is to examine the role of goal setting in coaching.   This is a critical examination, and the chapter authors do not always agree with each other.  Some, for instance, Tony Grant, see all human activity as intrinsically goal-directed, others argue this is a too inclusive definition to be useful. Whatever your position, this book is likely to challenge your thinking about goal setting, and again it is one of those books that challenge much of the conventional wisdom in career development, coaching and planning.

Career Development Books

 

6. Chaos Theory of Careers. Robert Pryor and Jim Bright

This book represents a summary of the first decade of work on the Chaos Theory of Careers. The theory that we developed was based on the principles of change, complexity, chance and constructedness. It provides the most comprehensive coverage of our theory, the evidence for it and counselling and assessment tools and techniques.  This theory is being adopted all over the world and attracting an increasing amount of research interest (and support).

Career Development Books

 

5. The Cunning of Uncertainty. Helga Nowotny

This is a wonderful musing on the inevitable and changing nature of uncertainty. This is a wonderful adventure of a book that takes us into scientific enquiry, big data and the arts to make the point that uncertainty is ever-present, elusive and ultimately never to be tamed. It sets the scene for progressive career development work and challenges conventional notions in our field.

Career Development Books

 

4. Hope Filled Engagement. Gary Poehnell and Norman Amundson

This is a lovely book and companion to Active Engagement. This volume makes the cut in this particular list, mainly because it is newer and captures more of their recent thinking. It is an excellent career counselling book, that is written in a very engaging, clear, almost folksy style, but don’t let that fool you, as you are in the hands of two very sharp minds indeed.   Their gift for developing counselling and educational techniques to illustrate key points and to move clients towards a positive outcome is remarkable.  You will pick up many tips and techniques of value.  I have said before that most if not all of the counselling techniques presented are entirely compatible with the Chaos Theory of Careers.

Career Development Books

 

3. The Black Swan. Nassim Taleb

Taleb is a provocative writer.  His tone puts one in mind of the insistent Manhattanites asking (demanding?) in no uncertain terms that you get out of their way as they are coming through on the sidewalk!  His take no prisoners approach, I personally find amusing and persuasive.  He has a fierce intellect allied to an even fiercer distrust of many academics – particularly in Economics, and he makes a strong case that models of risk based on the normal curve fail to appreciate the true nature of risk, and therefore all of our so-called risk-management strategies are dubious or wrong-headed.  This is directly relevant to approaches to career development that very often appear to be predicated on reducing risk and uncertainty as if we understood what these things are and can control them.

Career Development Books

 

2. How to write a Brilliant CV. Jim Bright, Jo Earl and David Winter

I am very proud of this book.  It is now in its 5th edition for Pearson, not counting the three Australian versions (it was published there between 2000 and 2009 as Resumes that get shortlisted) and the two US versions (Amazing Resumes).  This is the single version we are keeping up to date, with the welcome addition of David Winter as co-author.  Why does it continue to sell and sell? Because it remains the only book on the market that is extensively based on evidence – quite a bit of it from behavioural studies conducted by Jo Earl, myself and others in the team.   If you want  proven strategies as opposed to opinions, this is the book on which to based your job application advising.

Career Development Books

 

1. You’re Hired! Job Hunting Online. The Complete Guide. Tristram Hooley, Jim Bright and David Winter.

Here it is!  Hot off the press published on April 21st 2016!  This is my latest book with my friends and colleagues Tristram Hooley, Professor at the International Centre for Education and Guidance Studies at the University of Derby and David Winter, Head of the Careers Group at the University of London.  I am very excited about this book as it provides a really thorough coverage of the skills required to have an effective online presence to get the job you want. Covers all the major platforms. It is appropriate that the authors met online before we met IRL!

Check it out now on Amazon and of course if you like it, we’d be thrilled if you could provide a positive review on Amazon. These reviews really do matter and we’d be very grateful if you are so minded and get give some of your time to writing a positive review!  I hope you enjoy our new book!

10 steps to develop your online brand

 

 

So that is my top 10 career development books. What have I missed out?  What are your favourites using the same criteria? What do you think of my top 10 career development books?

Do people use uncertainty as an excuse to avoid planning and do nothing in their lives

Do people use uncertainty as an excuse to do nothing in their lives? Is it tempting to say that because uncertainty exists in the world there is no point trying to plan for a future, and so best to do nothing and deal with what comes along?

Short answer. Yes!

I think one way to look at this is to see Planning (distinct from a plan) as a form of opportunity awareness. Continually planning (devising, revising, reviving, resting, restoring, rearranging, rescheduling, timing, abandoning, copying, conceiving) is the way to go. I think there are problems with those who over-emphasise the security or benefits of “a Plan” or even having a supposed fallback of “a Plan B” – this thinking is static and risks complacency. However the risk of failing to practice planning skills may be even greater.

Like many things planning is a skill – it can be taught, and it requires continual practice or the skills can be diminished. There are some conditions that we need to guard against that I call:
PPP – Pushing Plan Prematurely
POTL – Pulling Out Too Late
SAP – Stubborn Adherence to the Plan
RATS- ReActing Too Slowly

plan failure

 

All of these conditions can be remedied by continual Planning, rehearsal etc

Some ways to do this include:
Opportunity awareness “Luck Readiness” – Being Curious, Flexible, Strategic, Persistence, Optimistic, Efficacious, and feeling Lucky

War gaming/ Scenario training – building scenarios to what-if situations continually (Shell Executives in the 1970s famously did this)

Stress testing – working through the plan and testing whether it stands up

Mentoring – running plans past the brains trust and seeking critiques

Daydreaming – thinking up new scenarios, but taking it further and turning the daydream into a fully fledged plan (you do not have to act on it, and it is remarkable how seemingly absurd ideas are more practical and doable that first imagined)

Controlled Failures – deliberately deviating from the plan with sufficient safety nets or fall back positions

Bigger picture thinking – over and above any one plan – what really matters, what are you trying to do on this earth, purpose

From this perpective, we can see why Dwight Eisenhower said (quoted in a book by Richard Nixon in the early 1960s) that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”

My concern is that a lot of what I’d call planning, or playfulness or planmanship, is overlooked in the rush to getting a plan. The skills are not taught to clients, and there is little encouragement to practice them regularly. Same goes for organisations that tend to stick to Annual planning retreats, and do not – and unlike the Shell executives – regularly practice planning.

 

thanks to Arlene Hirsh whose question on the Linkedin Careers Debate group prompted my thinking

 

Webinars on Coaching with the Chaos Theory of Careers with Dr Jim Bright

Webinar Series! – Coaching clients using the Chaos Theory of Careers – 10 1 hour webinars presented by Dr Jim Bright

Training for Organisations – in-house courses StressSmart®, Job Applications & Promotions, Dealing with Difficult People, Authentic Coaching & Career Conversations for Work Excellence®

Dates – dates of public training for the rest of this year

Chaos Theory of Careers – book makes Amazon best-seller lists

Amazing Resumes – a brilliant evidence-based approach to writing effective résumés.

Blog – the Factory Podcast and Blog including interviews with Dick Bolles, John Krumboltz and many more

Linkedin Careers Debate – come and join us on this very fast growing and dynamic careers LinkedIn group, over 1000 members!

Careerscope – acclaimed school career planning book by Norm Amundson – massive discount for class sets.

Online Tests – tests to help people deal with change

Contact – how to get in contact with us!

Webinar Series

Dr Jim presents 10 1 hour webinars demonstrating how the Chaos Theory of Careers can be used practically for coaching people and groups experiencing change and transition.  Sign up for the series of 10 and receive a significant discount. In addition within each live webinar attendees can access special offers on products and training. The total worth of these combined offers is greater than the cost of attending the sessions!

There is also an option to take an online exam at the end of the course to receive formal recognition and a course graduation certificate. These webinars provide significant professional development opportunities and may be counted toward ongoing professional learning and development requirements of your professional association (please check with your association before enroling). The examined option may provide proof of advanced learning.

These sessions can be accessed  at a time then better suites you. The timing of the sessions was constrained by international time differences. Remember if you attend the live sessions you get access to the special offers as well as the chance to ask questions and interact. Those paying in advance can attend live, listen later, or both attend live and listen again later.

Session Title
1 Coaching with the Chaos Theory of Careers: complexity, change and chance – An introduction to a radical new framework for understanding the nature of change and how to help clients in transition Available for download
2 Using the Exploring Reality Chaos Checklist to validate client’s coping with change – This freeresource hosted online by Bright and Associates, is being used by 1000s of clients around the world to appreciate how they are already thriving on change and chaos.You will learn how to use the results of this free test in your coaching and counselling practice. Available for download
3 Using the Attractors to understand coachee thinking and overcome limitations. You will learn about the four different Attractors and how they influence your client’s thinking.You will learn how to identify the different Attractors at work within your client and how best to work with clients using the different Attractors. Available for download
4 Coaching clients to see fractal patterns in their actions. Taking Fractal action for authentic livingYou will learn how to interpret the complex patterns in your client’s life and circumstances and how to encourage action that is spontaneous and also authentic. Available for download
5 Coaching with Narrative and Plots to enhance self-clarity, overcome limitation and motivate actionYou will learn the strengths and weaknesses of working with client stories and ways of enhancing personal transformation though re-plotting client stories using the 7 Essential plots. Available for download
6 Using the Change Perception Index with clients – understanding the barriers to change for clients or groups.You will learn how to use this inexpensive and powerful online instrument to clarify how your clients think about and react to change. Used in many applictions for personal career change, change management initiatives in organisations and rehabilitation. Available for download
7 Using the Luck Readiness Index with clients. Promoting opportunity awareness with clients or groups.You will learn how to use this inexpensive and powerful online instrument to understand your clients levels of opportunity awareness. Used in many applications for personal career change, change management initiatives in organisations and rehabilitation. Available for download
8 Using Signposts cards with Clients – helping clients make the links with their fundamental values and deep beliefs.You will learn how to use this visually stunning card sort to rapidly assist clients understand and make links between their essential world-view and their career opportunities. Available for download
9 Using Creative Thinking Strategies Cards with Clients – to enhance creative and optimistic solutions to challenges faced by individuals or groupsYou will learn how to use this large and powerful card sort to assist clients in overcoming self-limited thinking and to generate solutions to barriers in their change transition. Available for download
10 Applying The Beyond Personal Mastery® model of Creative Coaching – using a practical framework to coach clients undergoing change.You will learn how to apply a powerful model of personal and organisational change to guide your approach to coaching and counseling. Available for download

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaos Theory of Career Book

Our book, the Chaos Theory of Careers – has reached No1 in the Amazon Medical Counselling Charts in the UK and has regularly featured in the top ten since then – you can buy the book from the UK Amazon store here

It has also been in the top 20 Amazon US kindle Consulting charts. Get the kindle or paperback version from the US Amazon store

Amazing Resumes

This well-received title published by JIST is now in its second edition. It is an evidence-based resume guide containing practical advice on how to construct a winning resume based on research from the recruitment industry. It was in the Amazon Top 40 resume guides as I type this newsletter. You can buy this on Amazon here

Alternatively for UK readers, get my bestselling Brilliant CV – now in its 4th edition. Available here.

Blog

Go to the Factory Podcast and Blog to read the latest thinking from Dr Jim plus interviews with Janet Lenz, Spencer Niles, Robert Pryor, Norm Amundson, John Krumboltz, Dick Bolles etc

Tests to assess reactions to change

Try out our online tests that measure Reactions to Change and Opportunity awareness – two of the key drivers of effective change management and transition.These tests are being widely used around the world in Change Management Programs, Workshops, by Coaches and Counsellors and in lecture programs (e.g. University of Kentucky) Go here to register and take the tests.

In-house training

We offer a range of in-house training courses such as StressSmart®, Beyond Corporate Mastery®, Beyond Personal Mastery® and Dealing with Change, as well as consulting services to Industry.

Please contact us for more details or download our brochure on training here.

Contact us:

Email: info@brightandassociates.com.au

 

web www.brightandassociates.com.au www.beyondpersonalmastery.com www.jimbright.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaching Fractal Action for Personal Development

We get frustrated when we are unsure how to act, and feel disheartened when we voluntarily or involuntarily act in ways that are not true ourselves.  We can get lost while searching for the sweet spot that lies between pattern and surprise, consistency and spontaneity, security and risk, familiarity and freedom, and order and disorder. We can use the idea of fractals, described in the Chaos Theory of Careers, to guide us into satisfying action that is spontaneous and consistent.

When I suggested in my previous post that people act before they think one common concern is that this means acting in an entirely random manner. Indeed I did suggest “committing random acts of contribution”. However underpinning these supposedly random acts is a thread of continuity. The random acts I advocated were not totally random, they were constrained to being acts of contribution.

What I am advocating is to repeatedly apply the same rule “to contribute” over and over again in many different contexts and in many different ways.  Through these acts, a pattern of contribution emerges – or in the words of the Chaos Theory of Careers a Fractal pattern emerges.

A Wikipedia definition of a Fractal captures what we need for our purposes. ‘Fractals are typically self-similar patterns, where self-similar means they are “the same from near as from far”…. The definition of fractal goes beyond self-similarity per se to exclude trivial self-similarity and include the idea of a detailed pattern repeating itself.’

So repeatedly applying the value “to make a contribution” whenever and wherever leads to a beautiful fractal of contribution.

We can use Fractals as a way of motivating us to action, in a manner that is consistent but not totally predictable; novel but similar; sort of like old, but new; trait-like, but changing; or in the words of H.B. Gelatt, focused AND flexible.

There are four steps to Fractal Action

Step 1  Define your value rule

This is the rule you are going to apply over and over again. It should be specified in one sentence and should NOT be over-specified. It needs to be self-evidently clear, but not limiting, and it is NOT time-based.

Here are some GOOD examples:

  • helping people less well off
  • reducing costs by 10%
  • providing motivational feedback
  • learning one new thing
  • trying one new thing
  • eating a new food
  • listening to a new song
  • meeting one more person
  • improving my grade score/sales performance/feedback ratings
  • all of the above
  • improving my performance
  • being polite

These are BAD examples

  • reaching 100K in sales by August
  • getting to 10,000 twitter followers
  • helping people by supplying them with more umbrellas
  • getting promoted to Senior Management

(You can see that the good “rules” are akin to values or higher order/fuzzy goals, whereas the bad examples more closely resemble the increasingly discredited SMART goals.)

Step 2 Apply your Fractal value to your next action

For any given situation, bring to mind your fractal rule and ask yourself:

“How can I apply this rule in this situation right now?” and then do it!

This step requires Courage, opportunity awareness and creativity to see how your rules are linked to the current situation.

Step 3 Repeat

The key to this process is to repeat the process continually and regularly, in as many situations, if not all the situations you find yourself in.

Step 4 Step back and understand the pattern that is emerging

Look to see patterns emerging over time, consider the outcomes of your actions and also the underlying process.  You should see developing a complex, changing, unpredictable pattern that nevertheless has a thread of continuity reflecting how you, your values and skills have connected with the world, and how you have emerged into yourself.

As Aristotle wrote “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”. And that is coaching fractal action for personal development – it’s simple but its complex!

Slow shift, fast shift, deep shift – Keynote Presentation to International Coaching Congress, Manly, Australia 2012

Shift: Slow shift, fast shift, deep shift – Keynote Presentation to International Coaching Congress, Manly, Australia 2012

How coaches can enhance their practice using shift principles.

Fast Shift Slow Shift Deep Shift Coaching using the Chaos Theory of Careers presented by Dr Jim Bright

Coaching is about change and therefore we need to embrace the ideas of fast shift – sudden change; slow shift – slow change, and we might end up in deep shift  – up shift creek!  Coaching focused on shift sets up a powerful way to interact with clients to help them survive and thrive in a world where shift happens.  This is a one hour keynote presentation by Dr Jim Bright at a coaching conference in 2012.

The top 10 words of 2011 or of all time?

LinkedIn report the top 10 clichés found on LinkedIn profiles in 2011 (see here).  So how do these words stack up in terms of historic usage?  Using a relatively unknown google research feature called Ngram, we can see how often each of these words have appeared in books since the 1500s!  It is interesting to see how many of the words in career development have only recently become fashionable, but there are some that we might think are shiny and new that have been around before or forever.

Top of the LinkedIn list was “creative”.  Here is the Ngram result:

note: (the graphs show the results of analyzing up to 6000 books published each year from 1500-2008.  In the early years this represents all the books published, and in later years, a random selection of books.  The percentages on the y-axis represent the number of times the searched word appears as a proportion of all words published in the sample of books for that year)

This word didn’t really feature until the self-conscious C20th, and plateaued around the time of the Mad Men Madison Avenue advertising hey-dey in the 1960s.

Next up is the word “Organizational” – which is kind of embarrassing I was the National Chair of the College of Organizational Psychologists!

“Organizational” is definitely a post-war phenomenon and is there evidence it is on the way down perhaps? Time will tell.

At number 3, was “Effective” – a word that was popular in the renaissance, and is having, well, a renaissance now.

Number six on the list was “Motivated”.

My oh my!  It seems the C20th was all about getting up and getting on, but have we turned the corner in the C21st?  I just cant be bothered to find out!!

At number 10 was that old stalwart of the resume – “Dynamic”.

It seems that as we got progressively more motivated in the C20th we also decided to call ourselves “Dynamic” – the C20th really was an exhausting century!

But what about some other terms that we bandy around frequently in Career Development – like er, “Career”

The word shows a less dramatic rise in usage, having been used relatively often in the renaissance, but really started to build in the Victorian era and the industrial revolution. Interestingly, Parson’s seminal work “Choosing a vocation” was published at the historic peak usage of the term career, which promptly went into decline until the 1950s.  I’m not claiming causation here!

The term “plan” that is dear to the hearts of some in the Career Development world is an interesting one.  It exploded in popularity between 1750 and 1800 (when Napoleon had his mojo) and stayed relatively popular up until the end of world war 2.  Interestingly then it declined until about the 1980s, when the dreaded goal setting literature and Olivia Newton John turned us all into leg warmer wearing goal-focused gym junkies and office warriors – well perhaps!

The current popularity of the term narrative in career development, politics, well just about everywhere, is reflected in the graph below, showing exponential growth in usage since the second world war.

Another term we hear a lot at the moment “constructivism” rocketed to popularity in the 1970s, but by 2008 looks to be at the beginning of suffering an equally sharp decline.  So constructivists out there, get publishing more – or at least start thinking about it, if you believe thought is reality and see if by the power of thinking you can get the line to move upwards once again.  Just kiddin!! 🙂

Words close to my theoretical heart and a basis for the Chaos Theory of Careers is the word “Change”.  Ironically there has been little change in the growth rate in usage of the term change. It shows an almost perfect linear growth rate in C18 and C19 (funny that the Industrial “revolution” didn’t give it a kick along).  However C20th saw the growth rate in usage of the term increase markedly, but then it plateaued around 1970 – which is a little surprising to me.

The term “chance”  has a colorful history as the graph below shows. The Elizabethans were into it big time (as they were equally into “mutability” as Rob Pryor and I point out in our book – The Chaos Theory of Careers.  The term peaked in usage between the world wars, fell steadily in the era of “certainty” of the 1950s to 1980s, and rocked back into popularity in the last 10 years.

Finally “Chaos” is an interesting one. It appears that 1650 was total chaos!  I blame in on Frenchman Renee Descartes who said “I think therefore I am” in this year, well probably “Je pense donc, je suis”, but it is all French to me.  The term has taken centuries to recover from his method of doubt, but has shown steady and predictable (ie not chaotic!!) growth in usage, apparently recently returning to long term growth trends after a little flurry in the 1980s probably associated with the popularization of the science usage of the term by Gleick and others during this decade.

So what other words would be worth exploring?

The role of parents in career development and thoughts on my father

here is a link to my column in the Sydney Morning Herald and Age newspapers on parents and careers. The role of parents in career development is critical. Here I share some thoughts on the role of parents in career development and thought on my father.

Vale John Robert Bright 1925 – 2011