How Business Trends Have Changed Career Paths Featuring Gordon Conolly

Career advice abounds online.

Learning as much as you can, from a career spanning multiple roles is one way.

It has its drawbacks. Besides having too many jobs listed for a short time frame for your resume to fit, there are other consequences.

What career advice, then, should you heed?

How about a leading HR professional, with decades of experience?

 

 

Gordon Conolly was kind enough to share his seasoned insight with me in an interview. He is the Managing Director of Dalcross Executive Consulting Pty Ltd and Quadrant Management Solutions Pty Ltd, where he provides career consulting, drawing upon his executive corporate experience of forty years.

 

 

This is Gordon’s bio.

Founder and Managing Director of Dalcross Executive Consulting Pty Ltd and Quadrant Management Solutions Pty Ltd small, niche management consulting and executive placement firms with 15 years longevity.

This widely experienced Executive Director and HR professional is Gordon Conollyhighly respected and trusted for his advice, judgement and ability to work well at senior Board and executive team level. He has established his brand by consistently providing wise and mature counsel for 40 years at all levels.

This is based on a career with CSR Ltd mainly in IR, AGC in staff development, Chase Manhattan Bank in Sydney as Head of HR and PR and the last 15 years in management and HR consulting – see web sites with many testimonials.

He now spends most work time providing career advice, assisting placements and mentoring with a vision “best advice personal touch”

 

 

Below he shares his experiences and insight, with particular to reference to millennials.

 

 

Millennials do job hop a lot, often at the first new opportunity. What are your views on this, as a career plan?

 

Employers naturally hope for loyalty from employees, just presumably as employees do of their employer. So job hopping leads to some employers viewing millennials cynically.

When employers talk about loyalty, I think they mean trust. I.e. Trust that employees will do the right thing and let them know that they are contemplating resignation.

 

Trust forms the foundation of relationships. Where trust exists, it leads to loyalty. But it takes time. Employers feel that employees with a track record of jumping ship aren’t there long enough to build trust, or stay long enough for it to happen.

Of course, for employees there are many competing life issues to consider. You need to be employed, to support yourself or your family.

 

Ideally, you would want to join an organisation that gives you the learning and development support you want to build your career. Employers often do put much into the early start via good induction programs. But often staff are left to fend for themselves. It was similar in early generations –even more so.

 

So getting the support and ongoing advice from your employer doesn’t just happen. Your first job mostly turns out to be about getting work experience and some $$$! And this is important of course.

 

 

Gordon points out the importance of brands for companies you work for, and your own brand.

 

But really millennials should try not to job hop –they should be trying to build their reputation and a positive brand for themselves i.e. their “brand”!

They should quickly try to establish a reputation for doing their job well and indeed if possible be establishing respect for their work. That way “the brand” they establish will be positive even if they end up leaving to go to another employer.

 

In your 20s its a time for maturing, for thinking carefully about career goals and priorities. This is important because there will come a time when you recognise work that you would love doing coupled to the type of responsibilities you are seeking, either ideally within the organisation that you are in, or in another company.

If you leave without exploring this, then that’s an important possible missed opportunity within an organisation that already knows you, your work and “‘brand!”

 

 

I.e. As soon as you start your working career you are building your personal brand: what you stand for, what people can expect of you based on your values and how your demonstrate them.

 

 

Providing this is positive, you can very early on in your career be building an advantage over applicants who are otherwise unknown.

But if you do not develop that maturity to a stage where you can recognise such opportunities, such chances will probably be missed. They certainly will disappear as you jump to another employer.

 

 

Here is what he says about the common reasons why millennials job hop.

 

A lot of millennials want to fast track and move quickly in their careers. Why? Changing jobs often comes with a pay raise and other perks. It’s of course flattering, but seductive too.

Also they just don’t know yet where to focus their time and effort, so trying another option seems sensible!

 

The reality often is that you later realise that you don’t learn that much really about any profession in a short time e.g. 1-2 two years in a role. It is just the start.

However, I have found that mostly it is only later in a career that you realise that real learning about a job and career path requires one to have time to experience the various cycles that all jobs i.e. ups and downs. These are in problems met and solved- be they with people or events often unexpected. A time investment is required so that you can experience these cycles.

 

 

The cycles are: not the short-term upsets, but the major unsettling changes and problems that come your way. It’s the good and the bad, e.g. getting to work around and with people that you perhaps find difficult or simply don’t like or understand.

Most likely: their colleagues, or their supervisor!!

 

The reality is: you will always find people in your career in any institution whom present obstacles or you don’t get along with all the time. So it is important to know how to deal with that, and that means persevering and finding ways to make it work for the institution, them and yourself. Giving up at the first hurdle does not help your “BRAND”

E.g. It is common practice for interviewers to explore your work experience by asking questions about how you handle difficult situations and challenging people and what you learned from this.

 

Your answers can be a deal breaker or maker!

 

 

Below is what big firms want in an employee, and oppositely what you should look for in organisations for your career.

 

Again, signs of maturity are important. Big firms are on the lookout for employees who display they have learned some lessons from actual experience, those who know when and why to put their roots down and want to establish good foundations for their careers and are doing so already.

 

Millennials that want to find career opportunities, and greater challenges and experiences should try to look for good brands in their job search.

If you can’t join well branded large or global firms seek to join a smaller brand.

 

Why? Brand name institutions and companies “stand for something” – e.g. they probably have a long history of success in their business- i.e. they tend continuously to hold their market share, they are consistently profitable or achieve their goals, they have smart, successful employees who believe in what they are doing. They mostly get it right and are good at keeping all their stakeholders (clients, shareholders and employees –happy). They are full of good mentors and skilled people that make this happen. IF your resume has you working for such a company or institution, it always helps your brand too!

 

 

Gordon points out the key strengths millennials have, and what needs to happen to succeed in companies that have what you want.

 

Use your strengths of research. Millennials do this much better than my generation because they know how to work the internet better. Look up and use social networks, do your research and find out the people you need to talk to and network and form relationships with them to grasp those opportunities.

Once you find a firm that you wish to join and grow in, and be a part of, you need to talk to someone that can help you get into such a company or institution. Use your network as well. Millennials in my experience have wide networks often not used well for this purpose. Talking to someone that you know and hopefully respect will shed light on how things are done there, and what you need to do to get career opportunity and growth there.

 

If you can’t find the right person to talk to in the organisation that you wish to further your career in, talk to someone else. (you should be able to find such a person simply by using LinkedIn  or a career consultant like me!). There are always professionals willing to help, some more expensive than others!

 

 

Relationships and forming them are important, and he goes into more detail in why below.

 

Relationships are vital to your career.

I have suggested finding the right people to talk with, where this will help you get launched onto the right path in organisations. But it’s my opinion that moving is often done rashly.

I accept that sometimes it’s needed if you just can’t find what you want in your current role but suggest you try very hard to make it work first.

As mentioned a great relationship to gain is a mentoring one. Finding a mentor will shed insight on what you need to achieve for your career to revitalize.

 

Unfortunately having a long list of one to two-year roles on your resume will not help suggest that you are someone intent on building long lasting business relationships, or that you are someone who is willing to invest the time to find out more about yourself and the chances of growth in the places you have worked.

On the other hand, a resume that shows you have chosen well how to pursue your career must help you. Your referees are very important.

 

Interviewers will want to know why you started where you did and what you learned there. It’s OK to be truthful if your first job or two was mainly about getting a start and getting employment experience and some $$$ to live! Hey everyone can understand that.

But if this becomes “job hopping” without much evidence of ‘collegial’ relationships being formed or a learning or career strategy, this can lead to a negative personal brand. That clearly isn’t helpful.

 

Interviews particularly are important here. You need to show you care about the interview and your job selection process by good preparation, in your resume and job interview. You should seek to build the beginnings of a relationship with the interviewer at that time, so you feel they are comfortable with you also asking questions to find out if the job and company has what you are seeking.

In my experience joining the right brand of company is far more important in the short term than the job they ask you to do. e.g. getting into Macquarie Bank or Wesfarmers

Once you get in, you can showcase ‘your brand’.

 

 

Do not let them sell you without asking thoughtful questions that will tell you this is the place to be.

 

Be the decision maker.

It is your career after all.

 

 

Read the next part of this interview to hear about changes in HR practices and more insight.

 

 

What did you think? How do you build your ‘brand’ image in your career?

Please share your views and advice in the comments below.

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