A Review of ‘Choosing Your Career: Proven Strategies for a Satisfying Life’

Today’s career book review looks at “Choose Your Career: Strategies for a Satisfying Life” by Janet Scarborough Civitelli, PhD.  In this book, Civitelli draws on the experience and advice of fifteen different career experts.

A quick bit about the author…  Janet Scarborough Civitelli, who has a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas, has over 19 years experience in providing career coaching and counseling services.  She has recently completed the humungous task of writing the book ‘Choosing your career: strategies for a satisfying life’, and I have been lucky enough to spend some time reading and reviewing it.

Before even reading ‘Choosing your career’, I knew it would be worthy of my time as the reviews on Amazon were exceptional, including comments such as “I loved reading this book. I felt like I had access to 15 exceptional career coaches and their best ideas” or “this book should be required reading for college graduates“. Psychologists have even commented that they will “definitely recommend it to any clients with questions about choosing or changing careers“.

In my opinion, what makes this book so special is that, as formative and educated as they would be, it is not simply a summary of Janet’s own observations and conclusions. It is a book that features the wonderful advice of 15 educated and knowledgeable career experts.

I won’t go into too much depth about each individual expert as I need to leave you with some curiosity and desire to read the book! However, I shall highlight a few key points from each expert that really grabbed me.

Paula Caligiuri

Author of ‘Get a life, not a job’, Paula Caligiuri  says that “just as the riskiest financial investment strategy is to have all your money in one place, the riskiest career management strategy is to have all your income from one employer”. Paulas advice is that it is dangerous to work for one employer and that we should aim to do lots of jobs that we enjoy.  She also believes that the path to a happy career stems from becoming self-aware of our own natural talents and abilities.

Lynn Chang

Lynn Chang focuses on career zen, which advocates doing what you love and loving what you do. Lynn believes that we are all here to serve the world, and that our individuals strengths and motivations are clues as to how we can each do our part. She firmly believes that the best advice for a happy career is to do what you love, and then the other things will fall into place.

Nancy Collamer

Author of ‘second-act careers’, Nancy Collamer’s advice to having a satisfying career is to articulate our fears, understand them and then move forward one step at a time. She proposes that we have to look for ways to make our job meaningful, as the happiest people are those who see the opportunity in everything.

Debra Condren

Researcher, clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist turned business psychologists, coach and career advisor, Debra Condren explains  that we are unhappy  at work because we don’t know how to align our passions and talents with real-world industries and jobs. She claims that “anyone who is bashing the notion of finding work that is your grand passion is someone you should ignore. Don’t listen to those people” and that we should all aim to pursue meaningful and challenging work.

Byran Dik

An associate professor a Colorado State University, Bryan Dik talks a lot about job crafting, which is the idea that a job isn’t fixed – it is static and we can all actively change our experiences at work. Dik proposes that the biggest variables that determine job satisfaction are: comparison to prior jobs, social context (i.e., who you work with and how much they like the job), characteristics of the job, job stressors, personal dispositions and person-environment fit.

Lynn Friedman

As a clinical psychologist, Lynn Friedman focuses on the psychoanalytical aspects of careers. She believes that we should approach career conflict in the same way that we would approach conflict in any other areas of our life. She also firmly believes that we should not focus on achievements, but instead focusing in building character, trust, self-efficacy and integrity can lead us to feeling more fulfilled in our careers.

Cathy Goodwin

Cathy Goodwin, who specializes in providing career advice to midlife professionals, offers two really insightful bits of advice on changing our careers: 1) do not expect a linear path to career change, you must be open to serendipity; and 2) recognize that unwritten rules are more important than written rules.

Herminia Ibarra

As professor of organizational behavior, Herminia Ibarra advises that to find a fulfilling career, we need to try new things and meet new people. Herminia strongly believes that we should always be curious and seek volunteering and internship opportunities.

April Klimkiewicz

As a career coach, April Klimkiewicz places a lot of emphasis on how our unique personality can help us to be satisfied with our career. We each have our own unique personality style and understanding this is key to figuring our how we will connect with other people in the industry we desire to go into, and how satisfied we will therefore be.

Ken Mattson

The founder of Resonare Consulting, Ken Mattson focuses on helping creatives in their career search. He helps his clients to find satisfying and fulfilling careers by connecting their passions with something in the real world.

Lynne Milburn

The former director of the Career Exploration Center at the University of Texas, Lynne Milburn has found five consistent themes of career unhappiness: fear, finance, fast (the idea that it takes time and energy to change careers), friction and family. She does lots of work with LGBT community and focuses on how to stop these five themes from preventing you from having a fulfilling career.

Shelley Richard

Shelley Richard, the founder of Next Step College and Career Consulting, focuses heavily on the informational interview. This is where we should interview someone in the field to find out what its like from an insiders view and make a more educated opinion as to whether the career is right for us.

Curt Rosengren

Curt Rosengren is a coach, writer and speaker. He surrounds his work by following the idea of gain over drain. He provides a realistic approach and recognizes that somethings at work are draining, but in order to be happy and satisfied at work, all we need is to push for a greater gain than drain.

Dora Summers-Ewing

Specializing in working with individuals, teams and organizations facing strategic change, rapid growth or significant development, Dora Summers-Ewing uses a positive psychology perspective and argues that the reason was are unhappy at work is because we think of our career is just one big decision. However, in reality, our career isn’t one big decision, its lots of small lifetime choices.

Barbara J. Winter

A pioneering self-employment advocate, Barbara J. Winter recognizes that we get paid in multiple currencies, and some of it happens to be money. Her work focuses heavily on entrepreneurs and how we should all be self-employed to live a satisfying and rewarding career.

The 12 key themes to take away

At this point, you may actually be wondering where Janet comes into this book.

Well, in the last chapter, Janet precisely and neatly summarizes 12 key themes to take away. Briefly, this themes are:

  1. Always begin with a career assessment (but chose one that is reliable and valid)
  2. Decide if the people in the field you are considering will have the same personality, interests and values as you
  3. Do informational interviews (in this section, she gives good examples of how to reach out to people)
  4. Consider the value of additional training or education
  5. “Taste test” whenever possible by shadowing people of getting internships
  6. Take personality into account
  7. Accept that achievement and change are usually incremental
  8. Your career happiness may come from creating a career that doesn’t yet exist
  9. You career might involve starting a business
  10. Make sure you have people supporting you
  11. Never stop learning and changing
  12. Don’t work so hard at decision-making and/or your career that it ruins your life

So, theres a short summary of a very niche and informative book.

Overall, I would say that is an incredibly well written, informative and helpful summary of advice from well educated professionals who know exactly what they are talking about.

I learned a lot from reading this book and I would really recommend it to anyone who is picking a career, changing career or just wants to be a bit better informed. It is an inexpensive way to gather professional advice and apply it to your own situation.

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