John Lees1

You will be surprised to learn that John does not believe in personal branding and that he gives creative tips on how to achieve a career change. For him a CV is really useful as an aide memoir and employers oversell positions…

Share your comments and other ideas.

John, I am a big fan of your books and the way you put things across and I have been reading your books (“How to get a job you’ll Love”, “Take control of your Career”) and listening to your talks.

To me, you are a creative and thoughtful leader in the area of career management. But on this blog, I always try to challenge the “normal” and the old ideas, so I will do an alternative interview with you…asking unusual questions.

If you want to know more about John, John Lees Associate.

Don’t you think that this blog could have been written by you?

I guess so.  I like the “push” effect of challenging people to think about a job they will love doing – although many are cynical about the whole idea there seems to be an underlying urge in a large part of the population to at least find out what it would mean to have a job they enjoy.

Lately you seem to be more dedicated to writing books and training career coaches, do you still give career coaching?

Absolutely – it’s an important part of my work, and I like to work with a wide range of people.  Today I had a career coaching session via Skype with someone in Mexico City.

Do you integrate social media in your career coaching or push your clients to use it?

I am a convert to Linked-In, and now use it extensively.  It’s a great way of reconnecting with people you worked with in the past, and a good reminder that we all need to work just a little harder at keeping our networks active.

If you were out of job, what would you do first?

Get depressed.  I’m not kidding – it’s important to remember the real emotional impact of joblessness.  What I would do immediately afterwards is to find one or two trusted colleagues who can remind me of what I am good at, so I don’t talk myself into feeling unemployable.  I would work with a coach of some kind to keep me active and to make sure that I get out and talk to people.  Like most of the clients I work with, I’d be tempted to try to solve my problems by using the internet rather than through face to face conversations.

You are a real creative person, what is the most creative thing you ever heard of in the career management (ie New ways of finding a job for example…)?

People are always looking for the hidden secret or technique (The Da Vinci code has a lot to answer for!) but the reality is that we need reinvent the process everyday – doing exactly the same thing that companies are doing with their products and services.

When reading your book, I must say that you are quite provocative (in a smoother way than me). What is your goal doing that?

Provocation is at the heart of good career coaching because it gets people to think differently about themselves and the world.  The most important step is the thinking part, and the best way to activate that is to be asked penetrating questions.

What is the most important thing to focus on when you want to change of career?

How someone is going to make the decision about career change, and how energized someone is to actually take the first step.  If I am not clear about these 2 elements, it’s unlikely that someone is actually going to break out of thinking in circles.

Do you believe that the CV is still a relevant tool to look for a job?

A CV is a weak job search tool (there are just too many out there) but with a well-focused cover letter can sometimes get you through the door.  It’s a good aide memoir after a conversation, which is the best way to use it.

Which myths of career/job search would you like to debunk?

There are so many – most of us are still trying to navigate the world of work using 1950s career thinking.  One of the great myths at the moment is that jobs are not out there.  The reality is that they are being filled by increasingly unconventional methods.

Do you think that “Personal branding” will be the next thing in career management?

No.  We’ve been there before.  I think the next big stage will be some kind of step change in the way we manage communication and networking – FaceBook plus.

With the current market, a lot of people call themselves “career coach”. What do you think about this trend?

It’s a frustrating trend.  The problem is that life coaches don’t really understand the marketplace, and former recruitment specialists don’t understand candidate mindset.  The real test of a good career coach is how well they can help “stuck” clients, and those who have no idea of what they want to do for a living.

Career and job matter (the sub-title of this blog) for you?

No question.  We spend so much time at work compared to previous generations, which means that choosing what you do for a living really has become one of the most important life choices you’ll ever make.

A last word?

If you only ask one question about a new role, ask the question “what will I be doing most of the time?”.  Employers oversell jobs, and candidates don’t seem to have the tools to find out what a role is really about until they are in the job.

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